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Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The federal government announced on Wednesday that the operation launched against the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) would continue till the arrest of its entire leadership.

Briefing reporters after a meting of the federal cabinet, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said all law-enforcement agencies were participating in the operation which had led to the killing of four LJ members and arrest of 170 people allegedly involved in carrying out attacks on Hazara Shias.

“We assure everybody in the country that the government will take the ongoing operation to its logical conclusion,” he said.

Defending the Balochistan government which has been under Zulfiqar Magsi since the imposition of governor’s rule on Jan 14, Kaira said the federal government was satisfied with his performance and would keep on supporting him.

He rejected a perception that the army and the government were not on the same page on security measures taken for the Hazara community in Quetta. “The army is part of the government and we can use it whenever a need arises.”

When asked that the army was ready to deploy its troops but the government had resisted the move, Mr Kaira said if tomorrow the province wanted army’s deployment it could do it under the Constitution.

“Yes, in the past institutions used to act on their own, but now things are different and all of us are trying to work within a framework laid down in the Constitution,” he said.

CARETAKER SET-UP: The information minister neither said ‘yes’ nor ‘no’ when asked about the possibility of Dr Hafeez Sheikh, who had resigned as finance minister, emerging as a consensus candidate for the post of caretaker prime minister.

Referring to a statement of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in which he had outright rejected Dr Hafeez as potential caretaker prime minister, Mr Kaira said the Constitution was quite black and white on the matter -- in case of a disagreement between the prime minister and the leader of opposition, two names each from both sides would be sent to a parliamentary committee to select one. And if the committee also failed to do so, the Chief Election Commissioner will choose one of the four names recommended by the two sides.

After Dr Hafeez’s resignation an impression is being created that he may be picked as caretaker prime minister.

“The issue of caretaker set-up and election time have been adequately addressed in the Constitution. So I can only suggest to the soothsayer, ‘take rest, everything will go ahead smoothly’,” Mr Kaira said.

He said like in the past, the government was hopeful of crossing this final hurdle after consultations with Mian Nawaz Sharif and elections would be held under an impartial caretaker set-up.

HAJ POLICY: The information minister said the cabinet had approved the new Haj policy, which would be formally announced by Religious Affairs Minister Khurshid Shah at a press conference on Thursday.

In reply to a question, he said the religious ministry was sorting out the issue of air fare with the PIA through the defence ministry.

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