Interior minister says he has no knowledge of any talks between the government and the banned TTP
The government is planning to launch an “air security” unit for Islamabad from this week, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced on Monday, adding that 12 drones would be utilized to ensure security for the federal capital’s citizens.
While he did not provide any additional details on the drone security system, he told a press conference that it would help ensure foolproof security. As part of this initiative, he said, 1,000 additional personnel were being inducted into the Islamabad police, and authorities were also purchasing two locators that could track suspects through cellphone signals.
The minister updated journalists on the government’s measures to counter fake coronavirus vaccination certificates, stressing that a crackdown had been launched against anyone involved in issuing fake or illegal documents. There would be a zero tolerance policy against anyone found to be involved in such activities, he added.
On the issue of passports, Rashid said his ministry had fixed a Rs. 10,000 fee for people requiring emergency passports within a day. The ordinary fee, he said, would be Rs. 5,000-8,000.
Referring to public complaints on fake national identity cards, the minister said the government had started to act against the people responsible, adding that 136 officials had already been suspended from services, while 90 inquiries were ongoing and 300 charge sheets had been issued. He said the federal cabinet was considering offering amnesty to people with multiple passports or CNICs.
On the issue of visas for Afghan citizens, Rashid said the existing visa-on-arrival system would be replaced with an online visa system within three weeks. The government is also considering waiving off visa fees to facilitate people, he added. Since Aug. 15—when the Taliban assumed control of Kabul—he said around 20,000 people had entered Pakistan from Afghanistan, while 6,000 had traveled from Pakistan to Afghanistan. Of this number, he said that around 10,000 had been foreign nationals who had traveled to their home states via Pakistan.
The interior minister said the government was utilizing an International Border Management System at the Chaman border crossing, noting that 16 terminals had already been installed, with a planned expansion of five more terminals. He said the government had deployed NADRA mobile vans at the Torkham and Chaman border crossings to facilitate people at checkpoints. He said the government was working on a policy to extend CNIC facilities for far-flung areas of Skardu.
To a question, he said he was not aware of any talks between the government and groups of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan—as told to an international media outlet by Prime Minister Imran Khan last week—and it was too soon to comment on it. “The Ministry of Interior has no role in this [talks with the TTP], and if the Taliban are engaged in any dialogue then it is not in my knowledge,” he said, adding that any decisions on this were being taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan.