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Pakistan's provinces told to beef up security amid spate of terrorist attacks
Publication Date : 26-05-2014
The Pakistan federal government, through the interior ministry, has issued instructions to provincial governments to step up security arrangements, Information Minister Pervez Rashid told Dawn on Sunday.
According to sources in the interior ministry, the instructions have been issued following a fresh spate of terrorist attacks in different parts of the country and amid renewed threats from militants.
They said that provincial governments had been asked to beef up security to cope with the possible fallout from an expected operation in North Waziristan, the stronghold of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The information minister said the centre often issued such instructions to provinces to ensure that the life and property of citizens were adequately protected. “We issue these alerts from time to time, whenever we receive intelligence reports regarding the possibility of terrorist attacks in specific areas,” he said.
The added security was visible on the streets of the capital on Sunday, with Elite Force personnel deployed at several points along key thoroughfares. Clad in their signature black uniforms, these personnel were seen checking cars and frisking suspicious individuals at check-posts.
Security forces began attacking suspected militant hideouts on Wednesday. On Friday night, two small bombs – planted ostensibly in retribution for the attacks on terrorist hideouts – shattered the calm of the capital city.
The information minister said the operation in North Waziristan was being conducted against those who were killing innocent people. He denied the impression that talks between the government and the TTP had broken down, saying that “the operation is targeting those who have put the life and property of people in danger, not those who are holding peaceful negotiations with the government”.
This comes a day after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said categorically that the action in North Waziristan was not a full-scale operation, but a measured response to acts of terrorism.
However, this begs the question; how does the government ascertain which groups are sincere with the peace efforts and which are not.
Maulana Samiul Haq, who leads his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and is the head of the committee that negotiates with the government on behalf of the Taliban, said in a statement on Sunday that a military operation had indeed been launched. “An operation is an operation, whether it is announced or unannounced,” he said.
Militants had earlier warned the government of reprisal attacks in case of any armed action against their bases in the tribal areas.
Farhatullah Babar of the Pakistan People’s Party, which rules the Sindh province, said the centre could not shy away from its responsibility to protect the citizens of each province against ‘internal disturbances’.
“Article 148 (3) of the Constitution clearly states that it shall be the duty of the federation to protect the provinces and their people. We are facing an insurgency and countering that is as much the duty of the federation as it is of the provinces,” he said.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) spokesperson Dr Shireen Mazari said the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) were under the administrative control of the government in Islamabad. “The Khyber Pakhtunkhawa government is already working on improving security, but what about Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan,” she asked.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan publicly opposes any armed action in the tribal areas.