Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said on Monday that as per Pakistan’s intelligence agencies there was no terror threat to the New Zealand cricket team as he termed the security to the team foolproof.
Addressing a weekly press conference in Islamabad, the interior minister said that it was for the first time that the commandoes of the Pakistan Army were deployed after the cabinet approval to protect a cricket team.
According to the minister, New Zealand didn’t have as many troops in their country as the number of personnel deployed by Pakistan to protect its cricket team. Rashid also commented on Five Eyes, a security alliance that alerted the cricket team to the purported threat, saying where was this intelligence alliance when the Kiwis were practicing in Pakistan for three days.
He said that other teams had visited Pakistan in the past without any issues, adding that the day will come again when international teams will start visiting Pakistan.
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In response to a question about England’s upcoming tour, Rashid said the English cricket team will let Pakistan know about its plan in the next two days. He further termed the cancellation of the tour a “conspiracy” to damage the image of Pakistan.
Speaking about the recent issue concerning Lal Masjid, the interior minister said the government resolved issues with Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz through talks as it did not want to create an unpleasant situation in Islamabad.
The minister said there were several cases against the cleric, but no action was taken against Aziz because it would disrupt normalcy in the capital. “That’s why we keep talking to them,” he said, adding that the cleric had a new issue every other day that the government takes care of.
According to Rashid, there were 511 seminaries and 1,000 mosques in Islamabad and the government had issues with only one mosque, that were resolved through talks.
The remarks about Aziz came a day after the capital police booked the cleric and his students under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) for hoisting the Afghan Taliban flag on the rooftop of Jamia Hafsa in G-7/3. In a video that had gone viral on social media, Aziz was also seen threatening policemen with dire consequences.
No refugees in Pakistan
Speaking about Afghanistan, he said Pakistan wanted a peaceful Afghanistan for the sake of regional peace. He added that the country played its role for regional peace, adding that Pakistan helped evacuate 16,000 people, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank officials, from Afghanistan.
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Speaking about the Afghan refugees, Rashid said there were no refugees coming into Pakistan nor were there any refugee camps in the country.
Commenting on the security measures taken for Chehlum processions, Rashid said that the Pakistan Army and Rangers would be deployed to assist the provinces. He said mobile phone services will also be suspended at the request of provincial governments.
Regarding local body elections in Islamabad, the interior minister said that local body elections in Islamabad will now be held in 100 wards instead of 50. He added that this was approved by the federal cabinet.