Provinces were informed about terror threats; Urges media to focus on promoting national cohesion; Number of blasts have declined since 2013
Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar on Saturday said that he is not in the habit of criticising other members of the government, but had to break his silence after the federal government was criticised for the lack of security at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine.
He stated this while addressing the delegation of representatives of Pakistan Broadcasting Association, All Pakistan Newspaper Society and Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors.
Addressing the consultation meeting, along with Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb, Nisar Ali Khan said he had to face criticism after the incident of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar whose security was purely subject of provincial government.
“‘Was security at the shrine the federal government’s responsibility, or was it provincial’s’? I asked, after our department was blamed for the lapse,” he said.
“At the briefing after the Sehwan blast, I had to raise the question and ask them why there was not enough security to begin with. Why were the walk-through gates not working, and why was the power supply cut at the shrine? They had no answers to these questions,” he added.
Talking about lapses on provincial governments’ part, due to which several terrorist bids were allegedly not foiled in time, Nisar said: “There have been numerous times that our department has had intelligence about certain attacks and we informed the provincial governments to take measures to prevent those attacks, but they did not act on our tips.”
“When those attacks that we had told them about were carried out, they shamelessly raised fingers at the interior ministry for not doing its job,” he added.
Nonetheless, Nisar added that: “I have lived by two personal rules during my term as the Interior Minister: To not take credit for any win that comes our way, rather, share it with all departments; and to not criticise anyone for any lapses.”
“The law and order situation in the country has improved a lot in the past three and a half years. Before our time, there used to be multiple bomb blasts in the country each day,” Nisar said. “A blast not taking place was bigger news than those daily blasts,” he continued
Recounting the statistics on bombings in the country, Nisar claimed that the country had ‘progressed’ to the point that out of the 700 bomb blasts last year, nearly 450 did not cause any loss of life.
Talking about Pakistan’s ‘unique’ situation, he said that: “Our fight against terrorism is unique, it is different than any war that has ever been fought because we are not standing face to face with our enemy.”
Discussing the role of media, Nisar said: “The media has great power: if it portrays fear, there will be an atmosphere of fear in the country. On the other hand, if it portrays hope, the people will be hopeful.”
“I once requested the media to not interview any terrorists; it raises their morale. All outlets listened, and since then no terrorists have been given coverage. This has helped in bringing the nation out of a state of hopelessness and fear.”
Ministry of Interior, he said, issued security alerts to the provincial governments for several times but he never publicly criticized anyone over failure to check such activity.
“I made strict accountability during internal meetings but never publicly criticized any one by using the slot of interior minister,” he added.
The minister said, “security alert was issued about attack on jail in past but I never tried to take credit of any effort.”
Nisar said that he deemed it inappropriate to do politics by using the name of war against terrorism.
He urged the media to play its role in countering menace of terrorism and to unite the nation by keeping feelings of fear and depression away from them.
Presidents and General Secretariats of Pakistan Broadcasting Association, All Pakistan Newspaper Society, Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors were invited to attend the meeting.
Minister for Interior said that law and order situation has improved a lot during the last three and half years. On average, he said 6 to 7 explosions used to occur daily in past but significant decline had been witnessed after the efforts during the last three and half years.
During the press conference, Nisar urged media organisations to show peace, and portray a soft image of the country so that people do not live in fear.
In the end, State Minister for Information and Broadcasting thanked all participants for attending the meeting. The meeting was attended among others by Parliamentary Secretary Dr. Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla, PIO Rao Tehseen Ali Khan and other senior officials.