ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Interior Ijaz Shah has justified the arrest of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement chief Manzoor Pashteen and some other members of the PTM, saying the law will take its course whenever somebody breaks it.

“It is the prime minister’s stance, that if you wish to resolve issues, you should come to the table. Nothing can be solved by fighting and going to war. This holds true for the entire nation, including tribal areas,” he said during an interview with BBC.

However, when questioned why there was a need for the PTM to come to the table when they stage peaceful protests and there have been reports of ongoing talks between the group and the government, the minister said: “Talks [with them] are also being conducted on the table.”

“I am talking to you right now. But if you go and say, kill someone or perhaps commit a crime, does that mean that no action will be taken against you? Law enforcement agencies have their own task. If they are committing a crime they will be punished for it,” he remarked.

When it was pointed out that Pashteen had not committed a murder, he said he did not mean Pashteen had killed someone. “I am merely giving an example,” he maintained.

Turkey offers dual national agreement to Pakistan

Mr Shah said: “They are Pakistani citizens. They have violated the law of the country, and they were arrested.”

“As far as the Pashtuns are concerned, they stand with this government,” he said.

“The [Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf] has a two-thirds majority [in KP]. Imran Khan is more popular in tribal and Pashtun areas than he is in his own district,” he further said

“No other political leader has done what he [Imran Khan] has done for merger of tribal districts and for bringing Pashtuns into the mainstream. So then who is their leader, Pashteen or Imran,” he questioned.

The interior minister maintained that anyone who violated the country’s law would be arrested.

“There is a case registered against Pashteen in Dera Ismail Khan on the basis of which he was arrested. Yesterday or the day before, an MNA from his party, a very good person, was using foul language against the country and state institutions and he has been caught.”

“Whatever their reasons for protesting, there is a civilised way to protest. They were protesting in the wrong way. The courts are independent, and they will decide the cases.”

Meeting with Turkish, Iranian envoys

Meanwhile, Turkey has offered a dual nationality agreement to Pakistan. The offer on behalf of the Turkish government was made by Turkish Ambassador in Pakistan Ihsan Mustafa Yurdakul during a meeting with the interior minister.

The Turkish ambassador on behalf of his government proposed that both the countries should sign an agreement regarding providing dual nationality to their citizens.

The interior minister said a draft agreement to this effect was under consideration by the ministries of interior and foreign affairs.

Mr Yurdakul said that the Turkish president would soon visit Pakistan.

Mr Shah welcomed the visit and said that not only on the government level, the people of Pakistan would also warmly welcome the Turkish president.

The Turkish interior minister will also visit Pakistan in February.

Iranian Ambassador in Pakistan Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini also called on Interior Minister Shah.

During the meeting, the minister floated the idea of creating ‘border markets’ offering items of basic needs.

The idea was welcomed by the Iranian ambassador.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2020

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