28 September 2022
LAHORE: The Federal Minister of Interior, Rana Sanaullah, while speaking in an exclusive interview on the Aaj TV show, Spotlight with Munizae Jahangir has made some revelatory statements about the Taliban’s reemergence in Swat and the reassembly of Maulana Abdul Aziz and hundreds of other clerics at Lal Masjid.
With reference to a question by Senior Deputy Chairman and Provincial President of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP), Mukhtar Khan Yousufzai, journalist and host of the show, Munizae Jahangir asked Rana Sana why the talks with the Taliban were occurring through jirgas rather than through the parliament.
However, the minister asserted that all the talks with the Taliban were in fact occurring with the approval of the parliament. “They [parliament] are being briefed about everything,” he said.
He also highlighted that “The parliament itself has granted permission to go forward with the talks according to the constitution. Nothing over the constitution will be entertained or accepted,” he said.
Rana Sanaullah was also questioned on the release of some hardened Taliban, however, he denied that this had happened adding that not all of them were criminals and that many had come to Pakistan with their families. He said that only ‘real criminals’ would be punished in accordance with their crimes and those who wanted to live in Pakistan peacefully should be allowed to do so.
Waiving aside the idea of the reemergence of the Taliban in Swat, he said, “Pakistan law enforcement including the army, police and others are confident that the Taliban cannot take over. Our forces have never been weak in front of the Taliban nor will they ever.”
The return of Abdul Aziz to Lal Masjid
The Interior Minister was also questioned about the resurfacing of ‘Maulana’ Abdul Aziz in Lal Masjid, along with 200 of his followers, some of whom were minors.
However, Rana Sanaullah asserted that nothing was happening at Lal Masjid. He also added that “even previously it was all media hype” and that “the needless operation at Lal Masjid” was what led to increased terrorism and terrorist attacks in the country.”
He said that according to him the action taken at the time was unnecessary and that the issue could have been resolved without resorting to violence.
“The miscreants could have been brought to justice without killing anyone which led to a reaction which no one could control.”
When pressed on Abdul Aziz’s current illegal occupation of Lal Masjid and whether it was a challenge to the present government, the Interior Minister denied that the situation was as grim.
“There is no challenge. It is just Abdul Aziz, his wife and some others. They have their grievances and have suffered losses and are angry and wish to reclaim their position but that cannot happen,” he clarified. “However, just because they have returned we cannot overpower them as this exacerbates the problem and does not resolve it.”
He said that the ministry would approach the situation in a balanced way.
Connecting the Lal masjid situation to the one in Swat, Rana Sana noted that proceeding with discussions as opposed to action would always be more beneficial.
When asked if he was against any military operation, the Interior Minister reiterated that the first step should be negotiations and only afterwards should the government resort to other methods.
Reflecting on the US war in Afghanistan he noted how the US used brute force in Afghanistan and that if they had used other methods then the war would have ended 20 years earlier.