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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Sunday warned that state will go after those who would pick arms against the country and its armed forces, but the doors for dialogue will not be closed.

Speaking at a news conference about Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif’s visit to Pakistan on February 7 (today), Rashid said that he would be visiting the country on the special invitation and the talks would also cover the issue of Pakistani prisoners in the Kingdom.

About the security forces operation in Balochistan, he said that the security forces killed 20 militants over the three-day long operation, in which nine army personnel also embraced martyrdom.

“Whoever will pick arms against Pakistan and its integrity, the armed forces would fulfil their responsibilities at any cost,” he warned. He said that India is not leaving any opportunity to destabilize Pakistan, adding that New Delhi is “upset” due to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China.

To a question about the talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), he declined to comment on the “sensitive” matter, as Taliban are playing their role.

“I think I should not comment on the talks at this stage, as Taliban are also involved in it,” he said, adding that he would be in a position to comment once the Foreign Minister is back from the China visit and the issue is discussed in a meeting.

He said that Pakistan continues to have good relations with the Taliban and would also continue to play its positive role in addressing the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

When asked whether talks could also be held with the Baloch separatist elements, the Interior Minister said that the doors for the talks cannot be shut down, but the terrorists and those who would pick arms against Pakistan, the armed forces and the installations, cannot be forbidden.

He said that Pakistan’s armed forces are taking actions against the terrorists and the country has already rendered sacrifices of over 70000 to 80000 people and security forces personnel in the fight against terrorism.

To another question about Pakistani prisoners in Gulf States and other countries, he said that the government is making efforts to raise the issue of the prisoners with many other Gulf States, including Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, adding that their interior ministers are also being given invitations to visit Pakistan.

He said that Saudi Interior Minister is arriving today (Monday), adding that all the issues, including matters of mutual interest and the prisoners would be discussed with his Saudi counterpart.

He said that many prisoners have already been brought back from Turkey, adding that the issue of the prisoners in various jails of Muslim countries on minor charges would also be discussed in the cabinet.

The Interior Minister Sheikh played down the opposition parties’ decision to use all constitutional means to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government, adding that the opposition is dying on its own.

About the long-march, he said that he had earlier urged the opposition to call off their protest and now he would ask them to ‘come’. “These are saying to send the government packing, but they would fail,” he said, adding that the opposition is insisting on holding the long march on March 23 on the day when the OIC conference would also be held in Islamabad, besides the Pakistan Day parade.

“They should do whatever they want. Our armed forces have a separate route and they [opposition] should sit with us and decide about their own,” he added.

He also challenged the opposition to bring a no-confidence motion against the prime minister, adding that the opposition can all join hands in their efforts against the government, “but they will fail.”

“Maulana Fazlur Rehman [of JUI-F chief] used to say that he would remove Imran Khan like ‘a fly out of milk’, but now it is the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that removed him in such a way,” he said while referring to PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari and chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s meeting with PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif in Lahore.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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