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Handling August 15 standoff: Nisar hits back at opposition’s censure


ISLAMABAD: 

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan briefed the upper house of the parliament on Wednesday, in which he defended the government’s handling of the stand-off on Jinnah Avenue on August 15. He was responding to the Senate’s questions that had asked him to explain why the government failed in resolving the security situation swiftly.

Nisar rejected claims that Islamabad was taken hostage. He said the issue was being blown out of proportions by merely politicising it.

“You say the drama went on for 5 hours. No, I would say the drama is still on and it was the opposition that was unnecessarily propagating it and distorting facts in the process,” said the minister.

Reminding the opposition of past incidents he said 9,600 people died and 25,000 were injured in 8,514 major terrorist incidents in last five years and another 3,500 people were killed and 6,000 injured in 3,797 terrorism incidents from 2005 to 2008. He said his party could also have created problems for the previous government but instead the party cooperated.

Nisar said those criticising his two months’ performance have forgotten the performance of their own respective governments and their failures in providing security even to their own political leaders.

“The minorities’ minister was killed despite the fact that the government of the time was well aware of threats to his life,” said the minister.

Responding to opposition’s criticism that the government was not visible at the scene of the incident, the minister questioned if anyone from the government could be seen on site in the Osama Bin Laden incident which he declared as an “attack on the state of Pakistan”.

He rejected the opposition’s criticism that the police did not have marksmen to shoot the gunman. He blamed the previous government for not focusing on police’s training, whose sharpshooters weren’t trained to shoot beyond 100 metres and not planning contingencies to deal with such emergency situations.

“The Pakistan that you handed us on June 1 2013 is more secure in these two months and it will be even more secure in the months to come,” said the interior minister.

He told the house that he passed instructions to take the gunman alive as he did not take hostages and could provide useful information.

Media’s role

Nisar told Senate that journalists became the main obstacle in carrying out a police operation.

The sharpshooters were reluctant to take out the gunman in presence of live cameras as it could have led to operational and legal complications and while the security forces wanted a 15-minute window to take out the gunman the media did not flinch, said the minister.

Surrender

Nisar said the culprit offered to end the fiasco and called the police for negotiations, however his demands were too far-fetched to be met.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2013.