Cabinet decides to revisit strategy against terrorism
ISLAMABAD: In the backdrop of the assassination of Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, the cabinet has decided to reshape the government’s counter-terrorism strategy and remove all the security loopholes to take more offensive measures against the terrorists, who have changed their strategy by adopting the new trend of target killings.
The cabinet met with Prime Minister Gilani in the chair here at the PM’s Secretariat on Wednesday. The meeting lasted for five hours while all the routine agenda was suspended. According to sources, the prime minister issued directives to the Interior Ministry to beef up security of ministers, top politicians and the parliamentary heads of political parties in parliament, and affirmed in clear terms that no security breach of the top political leaders would be tolerated at any cost.
Sources disclosed that the prime minister had given a go-ahead signal to the Interior Ministry for devising new security measures for the protection of ministers and political leaders with additional deployment of security personnel, including police, Rangers and Frontier Constabulary.
Sources said that after observing two minutes silence for Shahbaz Bhatti, the cabinet held an in-camera meeting as Premier Gilani, on a suggestion of Law Minister Babar Awan, ordered all the officials to leave the room and only the cabinet members remained there.
Sources said the prime minister also directed the Interior Ministry to prepare a draft and to present it to the heads of all parliamentary parties and also to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security to seek their suggestions in this regard.
Sources said it was also decided that the prime minister will convene a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet to take the military leadership on board for ‘offensive action’ against terrorists.
Sources said that in the meeting, the prime minister sought the comments from each member of the cabinet and majority of the ministers expressed their apprehensions on failure of the Interior Ministry to provide ample security to Shahbaz Bhatti, and also the security loopholes in the policy of the ministry.
Sources said Interior Minister Rehman Malik gave a detailed briefing to the cabinet about the measures taken by his ministry for provision of security in the capital city.
Meanwhile, briefing the newsmen after the cabinet meeting outside the Parliament House, Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said it was decided that all security arrangements would be reviewed and efforts would be made to make the country safe. “We have to win this war and we would never surrender to terrorists,” she added.
Firdous said that a strategy had been evolved to deal with terrorism with iron hands, and the people would feel the effects of this plan soon.
She said today (Wednesday) was a black day in the history of the country where terrorists assassinated a true Pakistani, Shahbaz Bhatti, who served his whole life to project soft image of the country. She said the routine agenda of the cabinet was suspended due to this tragic incident of terrorism and “it is the moment for rethinking our strategies and we are determined to defeat this negative mindset.
“We are in a state of war and today another precious asset of the PPP was separated from us which has left many questions to us,” she added.
She said it was a planned work of assassination and was linked to the constant conspiracy to weaken Pakistan. “It was an attack on the solidarity of the country at national and international levels and to damage our efforts of the interfaith harmony,” she added.
Firdous challenged the extremist mindset and gave a message that the sacrifices of Pakistanis would not go waste. She said the cabinet paid rich tributes to the departed PPP leader as he always pleaded Pakistan’s case and was working against extremism.
The information minister asked the media to continue its campaign with the support of the civil society and government to root out extremism from the country. To a question, the information minister replied that the cabinet also reviewed the institutional gap of security and a line of action would be taken so that no one would be taken as a soft target.
To another question, she said this incident should not be linked to the Raymond Davis case; however, there are loopholes in our security system which have to be plugged in. She said Shahbaz Bhatti was scheduled to shift to the Ministers’ Enclave on Wednesday but the terrorists got this information, which is a matter of concern for the government. However, she said we have to wait for the outcome of the investigation report. “We have to face this difficult challenge with courage,” the information minister added.
Source: The News