Interior minister slammed over Islamabad fiasco
21 August, 2013
ISLAMABAD: Senators on Tuesday termed the Jinnah Avenue incident on August 15 a total failure of the government, and criticised the interior minister's statements, terming them full of contradictions.
The Upper House took two hours to debate the issue when Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader Raza Rabbani presented an adjournment motion in the Senate, seeking answers to 17 questions regarding the Sikandar incident. Senators also asked the government to present a counterterrorism strategy as early as possible. He asked, "How did the gunman enter the high-security zone of the federal capital? Who was the in-charge of the operation? Why didn't Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar return to Islamabad after the incident, and what made the interior minister believe the gunman was not a terrorist?"
He also asked the government to clear what instruction had been passed on to officers present at the Jinnah Avenue.
Rabbani also regretted that no minister spoke a single word over the incident on August 15, as the entire world watched the drama for more than five hours.
The interior minister initially said that Sikandar was not a terrorist, but in Monday's NA session, he said that Sikandar had links with 'foreign handlers', the PPP leader said.
"If deemed appropriate, the minister should disclose the details of this foreign gangsters' involvement in an in-camera session of the House," he said.
The PPP leader also questioned how the government planned to disarm hundreds of Taliban when it had failed to disarm a single person in presence of security forces.
All opposition parties strongly criticised the government for its inability to handle the issue properly.
The ANP's Senator Abdul Nabi Bangash sarcastically suggested shifting the capital of Pakistan from Islamabad to Lahore because "the PM doesn't come here, and all the federal ministers issue instruction from Lahore".
MQM Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said the incident had exposed the country in front of the world, showcasing the complete failure of the government.
The PPP's Saeed Ghani said the bravery of Zamrud Khan should not be made controversial, for he provided a sigh of relief to the capital after a prolonged hostage drama.
Former interior minister Rehman Malik said there were internal and external enemies of the country, who wanted to destroy the nuclear capability of Pakistan.
"The Sikandar issue may be a preamble of future incidents," he said, and asked the government to form a collective counterterrorism policy as soon as possible.
In this regard, a committee should be formed with the objective to present a comprehensive strategy on terrorism, he said.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed of the PML-Q also termed the incident a total failure of the government. He also termed the PM's maiden speech "disappointing", saying the premier did not mention the formation of any counterterrorism policy.
He also asked the government to review the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. "We should learn the lesson from Egypt," he said.
Senator Zahid Khan said the federal and provincial governments were directionless while dealing with terrorism.
He said the government succumbed to the pressure of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and withdrew the execution order of two workers of the banned organisation.
He warned that the country would head towards civil war if appropriate measures were not taken to counter terrorism as early as possible.