ISLAMABAD: Expressing complete dissatisfaction over an in-camera briefing by Minister of State for Interior Baleeghur Rahman on the fresh wave of terror across the country, the opposition in the Senate on Friday demanded convening of another in-camera session for a detailed and substantive briefing.
Informed sources told Dawn that after the in-camera session, opposition members said that they found nothing new in the briefing and that some crucial questions, including the one about the presence of the militant Islamic State (IS) group in Pakistan, remained unanswered.
A participant of the session quoted Mr Rahman as saying that the IS had claimed responsibility for the Sehwan shrine attack and that investigation with respect to facilitators of the attacker was going on. He said three senators — Saleh Shah, Sassui Palejo and Mir Kabir — asked if the IS had presence in Pakistan, but the minister could not give an appropriate response.
Mr Rahman was quoted as saying that the fresh spate of terrorism was unacceptable and that the state and its institutions were vigorously pursuing the mission to stamp out the menace in all its forms and manifestations. He said that out of the four incidents taken place on Feb 13 and Feb 15, the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and one of its factions had claimed responsibility for the two. He said Jamaat-ul-Ahrar had claimed responsibility for the Lahore incident, while the TTP for the Peshawar incident.
A member of the Senate said that the only disclosure in the briefing was the arrest of teenagers in Lahore and Peshawar on suspicion of terrorism.
He said Mr Rahman informed the house that threat alerts had been issued after some important arrests. He said that a few kids aged between 10 and 12 had been arrested in Lahore who during interrogation had revealed a plan of attack on the Kamran boys school at Abdali chowk in the city. He said a threat alert issued on the basis of this information helped avert a disastrous terror attack.
He said that three children of 15 years old had been arrested in Peshawar on Jan 31. He claimed that they had links with Lashkar-i-Islam and they also disclosed a plan for attacks on schools. He said a facilitator, Yasin Qambar Khel Afridi, was in Afghanistan. He said a terror threat in Quetta had also been issued after extracting information from some arrested terrorists.
During the briefing, some senators talked about the role of external forces in terrorist activities in Pakistan. They said it was an open secret that terrorists were operating from Afghanistan with the support of India and other enemies.
The only excuse with Mr Rahman for an unsatisfactory briefing was that all these incidents were fresh and it took time to gather relevant information. It was finally decided that the minister would give another in-camera briefing soon. He was asked by Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani to come prepared next time.
Earlier during the regular session, the opposition staged a walkout from the house as a mark of protest against absence of the minister concerned when a few senators sought to move an adjournment motion to discuss the US travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries by the Trump administration.
The law minister and the minister for parliamentary affairs, in a state of confusion, looked towards each other when the chair asked as to who would respond to the motion.
An angry chairman warned that the Senate session would not be convened if the government continued to show its disinterest in the house proceedings. He said that even if the president summoned a session, he would suspend its proceedings after one minute in protest.
The chairman rejected an adjournment motion against travel restrictions on seven Muslim-majority countries by US President Donald Trump, saying that it had nothing to do with Pakistan.