3 Pak ministers have links with banned outfits: Bilawal Bhutto
Islamabad: Pakistan Peoples’ Party, chairman, Bilawal Bhutto, has opened a “Pandora’s Box” by alleging that three federal ministers of Imran Khan’s cabinet are open supporters of proscribed terror groups. Bilawal’s allegations came just a few days after Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, chaired a meeting of the National Internal Security Committee and reportedly directed the intelligence and law enforcement agencies to “speed up crackdown” on terrorist and proscribed organisation nationwide.
According to the reports appearing in Pakistan media, the security officials informed the meeting about the anti-terrorism operations, and the steps being taken against the extremists countrywide. The Pakistan government had claimed to have launched a massive “crackdown” against proscribed terror groups after India blamed Pakistan for February’s car bomb attack, in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district, which left 40 paramilitary CRPF men dead.
On March 7, the Pakistan government said that it took control of 182 religious seminaries, 34 schools or universities, five hospitals and 163 dispensaries, and arrested more than one hundred members of the banned outfits. Pakistan’s Interior Ministry had said that the government has put the people into “preventive detention.”
On March 14, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, while addressing a news conference in Karachi, dared the Pakistan Prime Ministe, Imran Khan to sack his three ministers, having links with proscribed terror outfits. However, he didn’t name anyone.
He alleged that the government led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) was “victimising the opposition parties, but not taking action against the banned organisations, which was against the spirit of the National Action Plan (NAP) to counter terrorism.”
Bilawal had said that the banned organisations were allies of the PTI in the last general elections and the groups had been rebranded to help the PTI form its government. “The government should muster courage and sack its ministers, who have connections with banned organisations. I am sure the Prime Minister is aware about these ministers having ties with banned outfits,” Bilawal said to this correspondent.
The Pakistani ministers enjoying cordial relations with the proscribed terror groups came to fore in December 2018 when the Pakistan Interior Minister, Shehryar Khan Afridi, close friend of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, reportedly assured a leader of Milli Muslim League— proscribed right-wing Islamist party— that till the government led by “Pakistan Tehreek Insaf is in the power no one would even touch Sayeed.”
“God willing, no one can bring harm to you people until PTI has the government. Forget Hafiz Saeed saheb, Pakistan Tehreek Insaf will support whoever supports Pakistan and its [sovereign] right. This is our belief. It will be our request to you to come and sit in the assembly and see for yourself whether we [are the ones who] stand for the kalma-e-haq, or others do,” the Interior Minister of Pakistan, Shehryar Afridi, is heard telling an MML leader in a 64-second video clip.
Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which carried out the car bomb attack, released a video clip of the suicide bomber within minutes and claimed responsibility for the first ever car bomb attack in the past thirty years of insurgency in the Himalayan state. But the Pakistani government continues to be in denial mode.
During the Pakistan General Elections held in July last year, Asad Umar, federal Minister for Finance had requested Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil’s support. The Islamabad-based cleric, whom the USA had placed on the ‘Specially Designed Global terrorist’ list, had gone on to play a vital role in Asad Umar’s victory.
Responding to the allegations Umar told journalists in Islamabad earlier this month that the religious organizations which supported him during elections were themselves victims of terrorism.
Meanwhile, Bilawal’s demand to act against proscribed organisations has made the government act sharply against him by terming him as an anti-state politician.
“The government has responded to my demand to sack Ministers associated with banned outfits by declaring me anti-state, issuing death threats & NAB notices. None of this deters us from our principle[d] stand; form joint NSC parliamentary committee & act against banned outfits,” tweeted Bilawal.