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—APP File Photo

LAHORE: Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik has again attacked the PML-N’s Punjab government alleging it has contacts with the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi terrorists, and urging it to arrest the accused to ‘atone for’ its past ‘sins’.

The PML-N has hit back by terming the minister the most failed interior minister in the history of the country and asked him to take custody of LJ leader Malik Ishaq.

Talking to the media here on Sunday, Malik said LJ had its headquarters based in Punjab and all arms and ammunition were being supplied to its hit-men from here.

He said he had been urging the Punjab government for the last three years to take action against the terrorists. Extending a challenge to Shahbaz for a debate over the issue, he said terrorism could have been rooted out from the country had the Punjab government cooperated with his ministry.

He said the defunct outfit would also be dealt with an iron hand like the Taliban and that his ministry had provided a list of 734 hit-men belonging to the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi to the Punjab government and urged the provincial authorities to arrest these accused.

“The PML-N should atone for its contacts with the terrorist outfit by and capture these terrorists.”

Replying to a query, he said the back of the Taliban had been broken and now there was no threat of the Taliban except in Karachi and Quetta.

Regarding the all-parties conference recently held by the JUI-F in Islamabad, he alleged that two banned outfits also participated in the moot and added that the organizers had better invited the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan too.

About reconciliation between the PPP and the MQM due to his efforts, the minister said the government had been engaging the MQM in the best interest of the country and give and take on certain issues was part of politics.

He said he was thankful to MQM chief Altaf Husain who would always give a patient hearing to his arguments (and change the decision of divorcing the PPP).

Special assistant to CM Punjab Zaeem Hussain Qadri says Rehman Malik is the most failed interior minister who, instead of paying attention to law and order, is engaged in political points scoring.

In a statement issued in response to the minister’s anti-PML-N remarks, he said that Quetta and Karachi were burning but the performance of Malik as interior minister was limited just to issuing press statements.

He said that as interior minister it was responsibility of Mr Malik to take strict action against terrorists even if they belonged to the Lashkar-i-Jhanvi. “Who have stopped Rehman Malik to arrest the elements involved in terrorism from any corner of the country?”

Qadri said it was on the record that a number of PPP parliamentarians were elected with the support of defunct organizations whereas Punjab government never supported terrorism and was crushing the elements involved in terrorism.

Meanwhile, Punjab government’s spokesman Pervaiz Rashid says Malik Ishaq, alleged chief of defunct Laskhkar-i-Jhangvi, is in police custody for the last 10 days. He said if Rehman Malik considered that the captive was involved in Karachi and Quetta killings, why the interior minister was avoiding taking Ishaq into his own custody.