Critics don’t comprehend interior ministry’s authority; Refused to become part of cabinet over difference of opinion; Always received cooperation from Rawalpindi
Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Sunday said that he refused to be part of the new cabinet over “difference of opinion” reiterating, however, that he will continue being a member of PML-N.
Addressing a press conference here Ch Nisar reiterated that though difference of opinions remains, he had always said he will remain in the party but will not occupy any office. He said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had tried to convince him to join the new cabinet till the last moment, for which he is thankful to them.
He also said that he cannot disclose the reason for the differences right now as he thinks the time isn’t right, and that the party is undergoing a difficult time.
Commenting on the DawnLeaks controversy, he said the decision to initiate the inquiry was taken by the government and it is the government’s responsibility to make the report public.
“I’m grateful to Nawaz Sharif and PM Abbasi for trying to convince me, but I feel I have a difference of opinion. Tell me, isn’t it honourable that a person disassociates himself over a difference of opinion? In Pakistan’s history, how many people have resigned on a point of principle?”
He did not specify who he had differences with.
“You don’t distance yourself from a ministry for no reason,” he said, adding, “There is always a reason, but I cannot reveal it at this time, because times are not normal right now – the party is in difficulty, the leadership is in difficulty.”
Ch Nisar also held a detailed review of his ministry’s performance, taking the credit for a significant downturn in terrorism in the country.
He said that Pakistan is one of the few countries where the trend of terrorism has significantly reduced, adding that today the country has no terrorist network. “A major change has come in the country…in 2013, everyday there used to be three to four attacks,” he said.
Nisar said that despite facing pressure, he canclled Pakistani passports of 32,000 foreigners, cancelled more than 0.2 million prohibited bore licences and cancelled CNICs of various individuals as part of fight against terrorism.
The former interior minister complained that the interior ministry would be held responsible for anything that would happen in the country, including any security situation in the provinces, while everyone was ready to get credit in case of a positive event.
The former minister said that he always tried to take along all the stakeholders, adding that he will not praise himself or take any extra credit.
The interior ministry itself doesn’t have any executive authority, he said, adding that law enforcement is the sole responsibility of the provinces. “Whenever any incident took place the blame would be put on the interior ministry, I tolerated in silence,” said Nisar.
“I haven’t leaked anything that I’ve said in the meetings,” he claimed, adding that he was someone who had “spent his entire life in one party […] and never even thought of the opportunities that came my way”.
“I said earlier that I don’t wish for any position in the government,” he stressed. “I even resigned from the Interior Ministry.” “Publicly we [the government] must stand united,” he urged. “As a nation, we have a very short memory, so I will be recalling a few things to refresh people’s memory.”
“The only time I hit back at criticism was when one party blamed the Interior Ministry for the blast at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine,” he said.
“I went to the prime minister in 2013 and suggested that we hold a dialogue with the militants. Today, everyone applauds the army’s role. In the All-Parties Conference, in Prime Minister House – everyone agreed on the dialogue process. We continued for eight months, but it did not succeed,” he said. “There was a double-game on the other side.”
“After the 2014 airport attack, the decision to start a military operation was made. The dialogue process, despite some people’s reservations, was mutual. The military operation, despite reservations of some [religious parties], was mutual as well. Today, Pakistan is among those countries where terrorism has decreased,” he said. “There is no terrorist network in Pakistan today,” he claimed, adding that there are terrorist networks and training camps “across the border […] that target weak areas in Pakistan”.
“There has been a huge improvement in law and order in the country,” he claimed. “The data network of the country had been compromised,” he said.
The Pak-Afghan border, which a great deal of people crossed illegally, “has now been completely secured so no one can cross it without legal documentation.”
He added that 2,500 kilometres were still vulnerable, but “with the army’s support, we are working to secure it”.
“We are spending billions to secure the shared borders with Iran and Afghanistan because there is infiltration from other countries.” The process of issuing visas had been “streamlined” to include several security clearances.
He said the ministry took a number of measures “to streamline the national security measures of this country”. “I have tried my best in these past 4.5 years to improve the security of this country.”
“I always received cooperation from Rawalpindi,” he said, referring to the General Headquarters. “And I don’t remember any issues as far as intelligence-sharing is concerned [with intelligence agencies].” “There has never been any problem with opposition party-led governance in Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said. “Today Karachi is not hostage to the madness of one man,” he said, referring to MQM founder Altaf Hussain.
The sacrifices of the police are undermined, he said, calling their struggled against terrorism “historical”. “Provincial police are undertrained and under-equipped, but they still fought valiantly against terrorism.” “I have no issues with the free press. I have issues with a section of the media. I’m speaking about the written media. If it [the news] is about my ministry or my activities, it is my right to respond,” he said. Process to grant visas was further smoothened and increased security checks were introduced.
“Today Karachi is not hostage to the madness of one man,” Nisar said. He added that issues were solved once all stakeholders came together for a solution which is going to be always needed.
Reacting strongly to Rashid’s interview, Nisar said due to unknown reasons a few people were shifting blame of their own mistakes on the interior ministry and the establishment. “If they are so innocent, these people should advise the government to make Dawn Leaks committee report public,” he added.