Authorities close to tracing one of the culprits in Asad Ali Toor case: Sheikh Rashid

Published June 1, 2021
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Tuesday said that authorities were close to tracing one of the suspects responsible for physically assaulting journalist Asad Ali Toor in Islamabad last week.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the minister said that the the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and police were conducting an inquiry into the incident.

"The fingerprints will be identified in a day or two," he said, adding that ads would be published in the newspapers if authorities were unsuccessful in tracing the suspects.

He stated that the receptionist who had recorded his statement said that he did not stop the culprits because they had visited in the past. "I have called the IG, Nadra and FIA [...] we are close to identifying one of the culprits."

He said that it was necessary to catch the culprits as some individuals "unnecessarily" target the country's security agencies to please their "foreign rulers".

"I think that if we are successful in reaching these culprits, all those who blame our agencies will be silenced," he said, adding that such individuals were unaware of the damage they cause to the country's image in the eyes of the world.

Responding to a question from a reporter, the minister reiterated that Nadra was conducting a fingerprint analysis the results of which would be out soon. "Otherwise we will give ads in the newspapers with the photos of the three suspects because some people are accusing our agencies according to a specific agenda."

He said that there needed to be a policy in this regard as such incidents raise question marks about the government's performance and also become a human rights issue. "Also those targeting agencies, but have separate agendas, also get off scot-free," he said, adding that a policy is needed to punish those involved in such crimes.

Asked about veteran journalist Hamid Mir, who was taken off air after making a fiery speech at a protest calling for accountability for repeated assaults on journalists in the country, the minister said: "I didn't close it down. I haven't interacted with him in the past few years, nor have I ever been on his programme."

The minister began his press conference by talking about his recent visit to Kuwait which has decided to resume granting visas to Pakistani families and businessmen. "It was a highly successful tour," he said that 425 doctors would leave for Kuwait this week.

He added that the Kuwaiti prime minister had also expressed willingness to issue visas for the construction sector.

"Similarly, 30pc of the three million visas Saudi Arabia will give out will go to Pakistanis," he said, adding that foreign remittances were a large part of the economy.

Commenting on the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the minister said that only Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N remained in the alliance. "I don't know about the others. It is done," he said, calling on journalists to name the parties in the alliance.

"Two have left and two remain. It is completely defunct but everyone is playing it up on the media," he said.

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