Minister slammed over Taliban attack remarks


ISLAMABAD: The opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP) on Sunday reacted strongly to the recent remarks of Minister for Interior retired Brigadier Ijaz Shah in which he had allegedly warned the opposition of attacks by the Taliban.

While the PPP sought an apology from the interior minister over his remarks, the ANP called for his “immediate resignation”.

In a statement, Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, the spokesman for PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, termed the minister’s statement a violation of the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism and asked the latter to apologise to the entire nation and the workers of political parties who were killed by terrorists during the war against terrorism.

Speaking at a ceremony at his hometown Nankana Sahib, the interior minister had said the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had in reaction to the ANP’s policies on terrorism attacked the party leadership and killed many of its leaders, including Bashir Bilour and the son of Mian Iftikhar.

PPP demands apology, ANP the resignation of Ijaz Shah

“Today, I pray for the safety of those following the N-League’s narrative and wish for them to get divine’s guidance,” Brig Shah had stated in his speech which went viral on social media.

Senator Khokhar was of the view that threatening the opposition with possible attacks by the Taliban was not only against NAP, but it could also create difficulties for the country at the international level.

“These kinds of irresponsible statements by the federal ministers have already caused a difficult situation for Pakistan in Financial Action Task Force (FATF),” he said, adding that the ministers through such statements were in fact “validating” the allegations being levelled against Pakistan by the world.

Mr Khokhar said it was proved that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto had correctly named Ijaz Shah as “one of her killers”.

“Due to this dual policy and actions, the world does not recognise the sacrifices offered by thousands of our army troops and citizens,” he said, adding that Ijaz Shah should ask for pardon from the entire nation and the martyrs of the PPP, ANP and other political parties.

“Why the people who issue certificates of treason are silent over this statement of Ijaz Shah?” he asked.

Mr Khokhar said the nation was now aware of the reality of the allegation of treason and would soon hold Ijaz Shah and his “selected patron” accountable.

The ANP demanded resignation of the interior minister and formation of a truth commission over such an “irresponsible statement”.

Through its official social media account on Twitter, the ANP quoted the party’s provincial chief Aimal Wali Khan as stating at a public meeting in Buner Nawagai that the ANP not only called for formation of a truth commission over sacrifices of the Pakhtuns but also demanded resignation of the interior minister within 10 days. He said the ANP had always opposed the “good and bad Taliban” distinction.

Earlier, ANP president Asfandyar Wali Khan had also termed the interior minister’s statement ‘irresponsible’ and ‘foolish’ and declared that the diatribe had hurt the sentiments of ANP leaders and workers, who had rendered sacrifices for restoration of peace in the country.

In a tweet, the ANP chief said the state would have to give an explanation over the minister’s statement. “Was the ANP fighting the war against terrorists for the protection of the state or against the state? Where was the minister when the fight against terrorism was going on?” he asked.

The ANP chief said the party felt proud of Bashir Bilour, Rashid Hussain and hundreds of other workers who sacrificed their lives during the fight against terrorism. He said the Taliban and other terrorist organisations targeted the ANP leaders and workers for their stance against terrorism and militancy.