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Amid claims by two tribal MNAs of giving step-motherly treatment to the people of erstwhile tribal areas, Interior Minister Ejaz Shah on Friday categorically said there is no truth in it and warned of 'chasing those speaking against the country and state institutions.'
In a policy statement on the floor of National Assembly in response to speeches by two tribal MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, who came to the House after their release from the prison, he said that the government is ready to cooperate with Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leadership but those spitting venom against the country and its institutions will not be spared.
"Enough is enough...let's act like Pakistanis and don't allow anyone to use you against the country," he warned after Dawar's speech who said that he and his supporters will keep raising voice against the injustice being meted out to them by the state.
Shah said that he is ready to accept all the demands put forth by the two tribal MNAs and PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen, but this should be clear to everybody that the government will go after everyone who is against Pakistan.
He said the incident which took place at the checkpoint and the language used by the PTM against the army was documented and reported by the media. "Even so, we are ready to move forward. If PTM wants to become a mainstream party, it should come out with its demands and I will take those demands to the Prime Minister," he added.
He said no one was after the PTM, but its supporters will have to prove their allegiance to Pakistan. Defense Minister Pervez Khattak said he was ready to mediate in the matter as he has met with Dawar and Wazir along with NA Speaker Asad Qaiser before, but they would "have to give assurance that their agenda is Pakistan only."
He said if the duo kept speaking against the institution which is a guarantor of peace and security in the country, no one will listen to them. "The military wants to return from Waziristan like it did in Swat... if your agenda is Pakistan, we are ready to talk to you otherwise it is a no," he maintained.
Speaking earlier, Dawar thanked the opposition for demanding his production orders, especially Bilawal Bhutto and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. He also thanked civil society, social media and other political parties for raising their voice for him and Wazir. Shedding light on the circumstances of his arrest, he said he and Wazir had gone to express solidarity with those who were protesting against security forces for carrying out search operations and picking up people.
He alleged when the two reached the Kharqamar check-post to record their protest, direct fire was opened at the protesters. He alleged that 15 people died on the spot and another 40 were injured in the firing. He regretted that the FIR was instead registered against him and the protesters for attacking the check-post, and denied the charge that the protesters had been carrying weapons.
He also said if it can be proved that the protesters were carrying weapons, he is ready to be hanged publicly at D-Chowk, Islamabad. He also questioned why an FIR was registered against him for an IED attack on army troops despite the fact that he had been in jail when the attack happened. "Who is responsible for the killing of the 15 people [protesters] in North Waziristan?" he asked.
He also criticised the media and TV channels for blacking out PTM's activities. He criticised some federal ministers, specifically Murad Saeed, for, what he called, "issuing statements against us [Wazir and Dawar] in our absence." Dawar regretted that their loyalty to the state is being questioned, and warned that time will come that the state would have to prove its loyalty to the people.
Taking the floor, Minister for Communications Murad Saeed recalled that he had stated that Dawar had links with Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS). "I stand by my words," he said, recalling that the NDS had refused to hand over the body of abducted police official Tahir Dawar to Pakistani authorities, saying they would hand over the body to Mohsin Dawar only.
Saeed further said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had been striving for peace in Waziristan. "We opposed [US] drone attacks when you were supporting them," he said. Days after Qasim Suri's de-seating as deputy speaker of the National Assembly by an election tribunal of the Balochistan High Court, the opposition demanded Speaker Asad Qaiser to announce an election for the vacant seat.
Naveed Qamar of PPP drew the speaker's attention to Rule 11 of the rules governing the house, which states that election for the vacant office of the speaker or deputy speaker should be conducted as early as possible and if the assembly is in session, it should be held in the ongoing session.
Speaker Qaiser is yet to receive a notification for Suri's removal, and Suri may also seek a stay from the Supreme Court against his removal from the assembly. However, even in the event that he does secure a stay against the tribunal's decision, Suri will lose his deputy speaker seat as soon as the disqualification notification is issued.
Qamar also asked the speaker to issue production orders of arrested MNAs Asif Ali Zardari, Khurshid Shah and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. He also welcomed MNAs Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar. Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif demanded the Prime Minister to take the House into confidence about his recent visit to the US and his crucial meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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