May 12 , 2017

Don’t play politics on civil-military ties, says Nisar

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Thursday emphasised that no one should do politics on civil-military ties, saying those who wanted to do politics should find some other issues.

He said there should be no political point-scoring over the civil-military relationship and stated nowhere in the world politics was done on such a sensitive issue except in Pakistan. "The strength of the civil-military ties was unprecedented now. Those who wish to do politics should find some other pitch," he said.

Addressing a press conference here, the minister said that the context of civil-military ties was not political but national, adding "now let the issue (DawnLeaks) rest."

Replying to a series of questions raised on the Leaks issue, Chaudhry Nisar said that the matter had been blown out of proportion and added that the Leaks inquiry committee report was a consensus document and should not have been turned into a controversial issue.

He said, "A perception of a conflict among state institutions was unnecessarily created in the media. If the government had intended to bury the issue, it would not have constituted two committees comprising credible and senior people."

The minister said recommendations put forward by the inquiry committee following the Leaks investigation had been made public. He said the notification issued by the Interior Ministry a day before (Wednesday) had exactly the same content, which had been recommended by the inquiry committee in its report.

The minister said that there had been difference between the civil and military leadership on procedural issues but not on substance of the report, adding the issue of implementation of the inquiry committee's recommendations in the Leaks issue was amicably resolved.

He said the federal government supported the inquiry committee wholeheartedly and transparently during the Leaks investigation and added the committee gave its decision keeping in view the evidence and facts.

Ch Nisar said the government never interfered in the proceedings of the committee for seven months. The recommendations were not meant to fulfill someone's wishes, he added. Regarding an initial letter issued by the Prime Minister's Office, he said it was an order which was written to relevant ministries.

The Ministry of Interior on Wednesday issued a notification exactly as per the recommendations of the inquiry committee, he added. The minister urged that no one should make the mockery of national security issues since Pakistan's enemies eagerly wanted to destabilise the country.

Meanwhile, Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani said that the federal government and the military must not be equated as the army was a subordinate institution, which directly comes under the defence ministry.

“I just can’t understand that you people are trying to equate the federal government and the military. Why is this juxtaposition?” he questioned.

Billing the ‘secret settlement’ on the Leaks report as a dangerous move with regard to the national security, opposition legislators in the Senate asked for making the inquiry report of the Leaks commission public.

Speaking on a motion moved by 31 senators, belonging to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), they contended if the issue was related to the national security, as a stance taken by the military for about eight months, why it was buried under the carpet without punishing the culprits.

The withdrawal of the much-talked about tweet by ISPR Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor was also a focus of discussion: something the treasury senators called it a step forward towards supremacy of parliament while on the contrast, opposition senators called it ‘wheeling-dealing’.

To this, Leader of Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan rose to point out that in a country, where a defence minister could be seen walking behind an army chief, the rules became redundant, and this was what was taking place in Pakistan.

PPP’s Senator Farhatullah Babar maintained that the withdrawal of DG ISPR's tweet and closure of potentially destabilising Leaks saga was a matter of satisfaction but he insisted it was important to learn appropriate lessons from it to avert a clash among the state institutions in future.

He criticised tweeting institutional differences saying that the ISPR tweet was most inappropriate, unfortunate and uncalled for and should not have taken place in the first instance.

Senator Babar also recalled an earlier ISPR tweet that hugely embarrassed Iranian President just when he set his foot on the soil of Pakistan on his first state visit and hoped that it would also be withdrawn. The withdrawal of the March tweet would enhance and not undermine the prestige of ISPR, he said.

He said that as a result of the Leaks issue, three trusted and competent professionals were sacked and it was not wrong if those sacked were not censured publicly.

Ch Nisar, while talking about CNICs blocking issue, said that during the last three months, 353,000 Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) were blocked. The CNICs of many Pakistanis were also blocked, mostly those who did not have proper supporting documents. "But we have to find a solution," he added.

The minister said that out of the total blocked CNICs, 174,000 cards were of confirmed aliens. He said during the last few years, 33,000 passports of foreigners were also blocked and nobody filed a single appeal for renewal of their passports.

Chaudhry Nisar said if a person was suspected with regard to his CNIC, he would be given a chance to prove him right.

About 3,500 foreign nationals voluntarily returned their cards, he said, more than 10,000 Afghan nationals who were also registered as refugees carried CNICs.

Nisar said that 156,000 identity cards were temporarily unblocked and the holders of these cards would get a chance to prove their identity. He said from now onwards notice would be sent to a person before blocking his card.

The minister also spoke about tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), as he said that the people wanting to visit the region for tourism purposes would no more need a No Objection Certification (NOC) and a notification in this regard would soon be issued.

"The NOCs have been compulsory since the past year and a half, but it would no longer be needed by tourists so that tourism in GB flourishes," Chaudhry Nisar said. "However, diplomats, NGOs, research workers and project related foreigners need security clearance," he said.

The minister said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had been empowered and launched an operation against illegal transplants of human organs, which was lucrative business and medical professionals were involved in it.

He said the FIA would also be empowered to start a campaign against food adulteration and would act against food importers and distributors to stop sale of expired food products.

Selling of harmful food products was an issue of public health and people should get healthy foods to eat, he added.

He said the Interior Ministry would also hold a seminar to devise a strategy against the harmful effects of communication towers of mobile companies.

Health organisations, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Capital Development Authority (CDA), Environmental Protection Agency, Frequency Allocation Board, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, King Edwards Medical College and other experts would be invited to come up with solutions to tackle the issue of harmful rays from the towers, many of them located in congested areas and near educational institutions.

He said that progress was made in case of foreign exchange company Khanani and Kalia, which was an unbelievable case.

The minister said the case was initiated in 2004-2005 but was then closed and all the evidence were destroyed and the accused got acquitted from the courts. Later on, the accused were arrested in the United States, he said, adding that he revived the case and ordered start of an investigation on the basis of complaints.

He said it was determined by the FIA that from 2005 to 2008, Rs100 billion were sent abroad through this one company. The FIA also succeeded in getting access to 1.4 million transactions of the company, he informed.

He said letters had been written to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and UK's National Crime Agency for financial assistance in the case. He said another case taken up by FIA was the non-payment of petroleum levy by oil marketing companies.

The FIA made efforts and took back Rs2.5 billion from these companies and deposited the amount in the national exchequer, he added. He said the Interior Ministry was also looking into the issue of non-payment of billions of dollars by petroleum exploration companies.

The minister said the FIA was also working to curb human trafficking from borders of Iran and Afghanistan. "The interior ministry has worked on catching many human smugglers during the past one and a half years.

"We will be blocking CNICs and passports of those involved in human trafficking and fled the country," he said. Many of the human traffickers were from the Gujranwala division, the minister added.

"We are writing to the foreign countries to take action against human traffickers," Nisar said. He said the ministry would rewrite to Interpol, hoping that red warrants would be issued for Altaf Hussain before June 15.



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