ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Friday triggered a new war of words between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party by saying that rejection by the ruling party of conditions set by the latter to support the government had prompted it to get close to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.
Speaking at a press conference, the minister said the PPP wanted withdrawal of a case against model Ayyan Ali, who had been caught attempting to smuggle Rs50 million out of the country, and help in securing bail for former president Asif Ali Zardari’s aide Dr Asim Hussain, who is facing charges of terror financing and corruption.
Without disclosing the name of a PPP leader who he claimed had proposed the ‘confidence-building measures’ (CBMs), Chaudhry Nisar said he had been told that Dr Hussain’s case was with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), but it was pointed out that the prosecutor general had been appointed during the present government’s term.
He asked the PPP leadership to reveal the nature of its link with Ms Ali and said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had evidence of money going from the same bank account for purchase of air tickets for her and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.
In Karachi, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah reacted strongly over the minister’s remarks.
Talking to reporters, he said that Chaudhry Nisar’s words reflected a “mental sickness” and called upon the prime minister to take notice of the statement of his key man in the cabinet to prove his impartiality in the growing tense relations between the government and the opposition.
“The irony is that whenever there is a terrorist incident, you would never find Chaudhry Nisar around as he goes missing somewhere. But when it comes to levelling allegations and sabotaging the political atmosphere you would find him leading from the front. I think the prime minister should take notice of his remarks. This is so unfortunate.”
The interior minister also talked about the $60 million frozen by Swiss banks and released after a letter written to the European country’s authorities by the then attorney general, wondering where the money had gone. He raised the issue of ownership of the Surrey mansion in the United Kingdom, three palaces in Dubai and a precious diamond necklace.
Without naming senior PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan, he also talked about the issuance of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) quota.
Chaudhry Nisar held the opposition leaders in both houses of parliament responsible for the acrimony between the PML-N and PPP. “I have never said how a meter reader has prospered so much,” he said in the the most blistering attack against Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah.
He said an opposition leader was supposed to be against the government, but the one in the National Assembly had chosen him as a target, calling that this was because of his statements about the country’s security, remarks against India and point-blank refusal to become a “part or tool of corruption”.
National Action Plan
Chaudhry Nisar said work on four points of the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism had been progressing at a fast pace from the very beginning. He said 10 of the plan’s points related to the provinces and the rest were in the domain of the ministries of finance, defence, religious affairs and states and frontier regions.
He said the graph of terrorism had gone down to below one-fourth and terrorists were on the run.
The minister said about 20,000 intelligence-based operations had been carried out during the past two years and thousands of terrorist attacks had been pre-empted.
He said 2,000 terrorist attacks took place across the country in 2009-10, while this year the number was below 200.
He said his recent retort to the visiting Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh who had levelled allegations against Pakistan had been hailed by almost all the opposition parties, but “one party had remained silent “. He said the Indian minister could have responded to his remarks again but he chose not to do so. He left, skipping the lunch and the last session of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’s interior ministers’ conference.
Mr Singh, however, spoke in his country’s upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha, where he said that Pakistan was not ready to learn a lesson, he said.
Chaudhry Nisar said Mr Singh had not explained the nature of the lesson India wanted to teach Pakistan, but if it wanted Pakistan to accept its hegemony and continued brutalities against the innocent Kashmiris, it was unacceptable.
Rejecting claims that every Indian prime minister had talked about peace, he recalled that a premier of the country had attacked Pakistan in 1965, another had broken it up in 1971 and the incumbent took credit for Pakistan’s dismemberment.
He said the decision to set aside United Nations resolutions and forcibly occupy a bulk of Kashmir had also been taken by an Indian prime minister in 1948.
“You are the one who launch attacks, hurl threats and close the doors for talks,” he said.
Chaudhry Nisar said the solution to the problems lay in talks and he had offered dialogue to India even during the Saarc meeting.
He said the Indian minister had stated that he did not want to see his Pakistani counterpart.
He justified protest by Kashmiris the day Mr Singh arrived here, saying that it was a civilised protest against Indian oppression in India-held Kashmir, staged in a democratic country where nobody’s face had been blackened.
He said he was not the host of the lunch during the Saarc conference that he had to skip because of an important meeting at the Prime Minister House. He said he was the host of the dinner that evening, which he had attended.
About a blacklisted United States national, Matthew Barrett, Chaudhry Nisar said he had been informed by the Prime Minister’s Special of Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi that the visa had been issued to him because of a computer mistake.
He said he had been asking for three days for the visa application form and had received the reply on Thursday. The applicant had not replied to many questions and other mistakes in the form had also been overlooked by a senior officer, showing gross irregularity in issuing the visa.
The minister said the report of a joint investigation team (JIT) suggested that there was no evidence available to prove that he was a spy but he had been deported five years back on the charge of involvement in dubious activities.
In the light of the JIT report, Mr Barrett would be deported, he said.
He said he had sought a report from the Federal Investigation Agency within a week, proposing measures to stop recurrence of immigration clearance of any blacklisted individual.
Chaudhry Nisar said 31.2 million computerised national identity cards had been verified in 40 days. He said 30,000 intruders registered in the family trees of others had been detected. He said 58,000 calls had been made by citizens, leading to blocking of 5,000 CNICs.
He disclosed that over a dozen foreign nationals had surrendered their fake Pakistani identity cards.
Answering a question, he said there are no groups within the PML-N, but there were some people trying to poison the party’s leadership against him and they were being watched by him.
He also said that some important arrests had been made two days ago in connection with the recent bomb attack in Quetta. He said the Balochistan government had sent fingerprints for identification, but they were of a victim from Pishin.
Our Staff Reporter in Karachi adds: Opposition leader Khurshid Shah reacted strongly over the minister’s remarks, calling his words reflection of a “mental sickness” and demanding that the prime minister take notice of the statement of his key man in the cabinet to prove his impartiality in the recent growing tense relations between the government and the opposition.
“These are reflective of a sick mind,” the PPP leader said while talking to reporters.
“The irony is that whenever there is a terrorist incident, you would never find Chaudhry Nisar as he goes missing somewhere. But when it comes to levelling false allegations and sabotaging the political atmosphere you would find him leading from the front. I think the prime minister should take notice of his remarks. This is so unfortunate.”