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August 21, 2008
Sha'aban 18, 1429
Govt talks tough as inaction against hate-mongers is assailed in NA
By Raja Asghar
ISLAMABAD, Aug 20: The government talked tough in the National Assembly on Wednesday after a day of an apparently sectarian carnage in Dera Ismail Khan, saying it would not brook “any nonsense”, as some members from both sides of the house protested at what they called inaction of authorities against hate-mongers.
But Interior Adviser Rehman
Malik announced plans to promote sectarian peace in the troubled region, including the Parachinar tribal area, along with the use of force against the perpetrators of violence.
“The government of Pakistan will not tolerate any nonsense,” Mr Malik said after a ruling coalition member said tension had gripped his native district of Bhakkar in the Punjab province after Tuesday’s suspected suicide bombing at a hospital in the neighbouring Dera Ismail Khan town of the North West Frontier Province in which 32 people were killed. “Wherever the government’s writ is challenged we will take action.”
The adviser informed the house that a “95 per cent ceasefire” had been achieved in Parachinar after months of violence, following a 72-hour deadline given by him, and said a joint jirga, or council, of 30 ulema each from the Sunni and Shia sects would try for peace in the region.
Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) member Rashid Akbar Khan told the house that people had started coming to Bhakkar to seek shelter from violence in Dera Ismail Khan that he said was targeted against the Shia community.
“All agencies know who is doing target-killing,” he said but complained that there was little protection for Shias from the law-enforcement authorities or any compensation for the dead or wounded.
The highly agitated member said the Shia could arrange their own defence if the government could not do it.
A member of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), Sheikh Waqas Akram from Jhang district of the Punjab, said chiefs of some banned religious groups were roaming unchecked there for the past one month enjoying a sort of protocol with revolving lights on their cars in what he saw a move to corner “all minority sects”.
Adviser Malik, however, said Sunnis and Shias had very little to do with the prevailing wave of violence which, he added, was mainly the work of a third element of “enemies of Pakistan sitting on the border” aiming to destabilise the country against whom the government would take “the strongest action”.
He referred to the ongoing military operation against militants in the Bajaur tribal area and said “it will not be stopped until we eliminate them”.
The adviser said all main intelligence agencies — the Intelligence Bureau, the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence — were working against militancy and that two suspected suicide bombers, four “handlers” and some material had been seized in some latest raids in the Punjab.
MQM ENDS SILENCE: After two days of silence about the resignation of former president Pervez Musharraf, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement used the day’s sitting to praise him for what its senior member Haider Abbas Rizvi called wisdom in standing down rather than contesting an impeachment to end a situation of tension and confrontation. He also congratulated PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari for his unexplained role in saving the country from a crisis.
But Mr Rizvi, who is also a deputy leader of opposition in the lower house although his party is a partner in the PPP-led Sindh provincial ruling coalition, asked the government to beware of potential turncoats he called “leeches” who he said had abandoned former prime minister Nawaz Sharif after his ouster from power and would now flock around the new rulers after end of the Musharraf presidency.
He seemed to be referring to possible side-switching by PML-Q members of the National Assembly and the Senate some of whom met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday.