Caretaker govt plays down escalation in acts of terror

Published September 11, 2023
Interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday. —
Ministry of Interior GoP X account
Interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday. — Ministry of Interior GoP X account

• Minister says TTP using Afghanistan as launching pad
• Says crackdown on hoarders underway, 59 detained over Hundi/Hawala links

ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan faces a surge in terrorist attacks, caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti on Sunday downplayed the increase in militancy, saying there was no need for alarm as “a little surge [in terrorism] is not so big as to make us panic”.

The statement by the interim minister came amid reports of almost daily skirmishes between the security forces and terrorists — the most recent being the infiltration attempt in Chitral in which over a dozen attackers were killed while several troops embraced martyrdom.

Speaking about the Chitral attack at a press conference flanked by interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi, Mr Bugti confirmed that Afghan soil was being used against Pakistan to foment violence.

He hoped the Afghan government would uphold the Doha agreement, ensuring that its soil was not used against anyone.

In reply to a question, Mr Bugti said it was confirmed that the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s attack was launched from Afghanistan, but the government had yet to ascertain whether only the TTP members conducted the attack or Afghan nationals were also involved in it.

“It doesn’t matter who carried out the attack. For us they are all terrorists,” he added.

The minister vowed that the country’s security forces will respond to such attacks in future in a befitting manner. “Our response will be visible.”

The minister commended the Pakistan Army’s swift response and the Chitralis’ resilience against terrorism. “The government will not allow anyone to impose their agenda through force and will defend every inch of the territory,” he said.

Crackdown on hoarders

Mr Bugti said the government had decided to launch a massive crackdown on smugglers, hoarders and illegal immigrants while also announcing a cash reward for those citizens who will provide information on these activities.

About the prize money for informers, he said: “We are announcing prize money for those people … who become our informants and tell us where smuggling and hoarding, [including] of dollars, is happening. We are also setting prize money for [information] on illegal immigrants and the FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) is leading that [initiative].”

He said a toll-free number would be set up at the FIA and interior ministry on which any Pakistani could call to help the government.

He said the action was also underway against culprits who had resorted to hoarding and artificially setting prices of items such as wheat and sugar.

The interim minister said the FIA has arrested 59 accused for being involved in hundi/hawala businesses and 49 cases have been registered. “We will public their names through media,” he added.

“The entire cabinet and government have decided that all of our institutions and provincial governments will go to the extreme against these evils of smuggling and hoarding.”

Mr Bugti said a “zero-tolerance” policy would be adopted against all hoarders and smugglers, adding that the culprits would be sent to jail, prosecuted and sentenced.

“It is shameful that these people are living among us and doing these things to the people of our country,” he stated.

The minister added that even stricter punishments would be meted out to those members of his ministry who were involved in such activities.

About the abduction of six teenage football players in Balochistan, the minister claimed that the players were kidnapped by the banned Balochistan Republican Army and efforts were underway for their recovery.

On Thursday, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar said a crackdown to prevent cross-border smuggling was initiated across the country.

“The crackdowns carried out during the last 48 hours against smuggling have yielded positive results,” the premier had said without giving any further details.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2023

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