ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said here on Sunday that the murder of Punjab home minister Shuja Khanzada was still a “blind case” and there had been no “breakthrough” in it so far.
Addressing a press conference at the Punjab House, he refuted media reports about arrests made by security agencies in different parts of the country in connection with the Aug 16 terrorist attack on the late Khanzada in Attock.
“This is a blind murder case. I am surprised to see kite flying in media which has linked even the arrest of a petty thief to the killing of Khanzada Saheb,” the interior minister said. He urged the media to refrain from reporting in an irresponsible manner about incidents relating to terrorism.
Minister claims complete harmony between civil and military leadership
He also denied reports about a raid on a religious seminary in Islamabad in connection with Khanzada’s murder and said such reports could affect investigations.
“There has been sufficient progress in the case, but no breakthrough so far,” he said, adding that the media would be informed about any breakthrough in the case.
Answering a question about security lapses in the Attock incident, he said that being the provincial home minister Shuja Khanzada himself was responsible for his own security.
He claimed that the minister had been warned against visiting his village and he had not gone there for three weeks.
The minister had to go to his hometown for some time only to attend a pressing event and he had no plan to sit in the veranda where he died because of collapse of the roof. Being a politician, Khanzada Saheb could not avoid meeting friends and people sitting in his Hujra, Chaudhry Nisar said.
CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS: The minister claimed that there had been excellent relations between the PML-N government and the military leadership and media reports contrary to the fact were baseless. For the past two years, there had been no “tension” between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the army chief, he said.
He said it was his job as a minister to defend the army, particularly at a time when the country was in a state of war.
He said he did not want the Nadra chairman, Rangers officials or the army to respond to political statements. “Do you want ISPR to give reply to political statements?” he asked.
ECL: The minister said the names of thousands of people would be struck from the exit control list (ECL) within a month under a new policy. At present two separate lists containing the names of more than 60,000 people are being managed by the Ministry of Interior and the Directorate of Passports.
Chaudhry Nisar said his ministry was removing the names of more than 5,000 people from the ECL. Similarly, he said, the names of 1,550 people who had been deported from other countries and 4,800 others who had been caught using two different passports would remain in the “passport control list”.
He expressed the hope that the list would be reduced to less than 4,000 people within a month.
He said the names were being deleted from the ECL after carrying out a process under which notices had been issued to the departments on whose recommendations the names had been put on the list. These departments have been asked to justify their action of putting someone’s name on the ECL.
Moreover, he said, the powers of the Directorate of Passports to blacklist people were being withdrawn and now the ECL and the passport list would be managed only by his ministry. The term “blacklist” will no more be used in future and instead the list will be called “passport control list”.
Under the new policy, he said, names would be included in the ECL only on the orders of the Supreme Court or high courts and on the recommendations of security forces or heads of sensitive institutions. Members of the outlawed organisations would remain on the ECL, he added.
Chaudhry Nisar said names on the ECL should not be placed for a maximum period of three years, but would be reviewed every six months. But, he said the policy would not apply in cases of members of the banned outfits, army deserters and people associated with the country’s nuclear programme.
The minister said the National Accountability Bureau and Federal Investigating Agency would have to send their recommendations about inclusion of a person’s name in the ECL to him and a five-member committee.
He said notices would be issued to the two agencies after one year and if they did not give any justification because of their failure to complete investigations, the names would be removed after serving a notice. Similarly, he said, it would be made mandatory for them to complete investigations within three years.
In the past, he said, ECL rules were massively misused for political purposes and on the basis of individual contacts. Restricting the movement of people without any justification is against democratic norms. The minister regretted that some people had been on the ECL for decades. He said he had received a letter from an alleged member of Al-Zulfiqar Organisation whose name had been on the ECL since 1986.
Answering a question, he said the name of retired Gen Pervez Musharraf had been put on the ECL on the court’s order.
CHINESE RECOVERED: Chaudhry Nisar said a Chinese tourist who had been kidnapped from Dera Ismail Khan last year was recovered on Saturday night after an extensive operation carried out on the basis of intelligence reports. He said the man had been handed over to the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad.
FAKE CNICs: The minister denied reports that any national identity card had been cancelled on the directives of intelligence agencies. He said that in a crackdown on bogus CNICs and corruption, 80,000 cards had been blocked by Nadra in four years. About 40,000 of such CNIC cases had been reported before the PML-N came to power in June 2013, he added.