LONDON: Minister for Interior, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said the present government took major initiatives to bring improvement in different sectors with particular focus on energy, security and economy.
“The situation is not ideal and there is scope for a lot of improvement. We are endeavoring to try and focus on two high priorities of our government – security and economy,” the Minister was addressing an annual dinner of Pakistan Society here.
He invited British businessmen to invest in projects of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a very ambitious $ 46 billion infrastructure project.
The Minister said CPEC is a very ambitious development project which can change the entire country not only economically but politically and geo-strategically.
The project is spread over about two years which will provide China, Central Asian Republics and to some extent even Afghanistan a corridor which will pass through Pakistan upto port of Gwadar, he added.
He said Pakistan and United Kingdom have historically extremely good relations.
“We should try and build on it. We should try to utilize the opportunities which are awaiting us in our two respective countries.”
UK Prime Minister David Cameron on his visit to Pakistan in June 2013 made a very important statement saying that friends of Pakistan are friends of UK and enemies of Pakistan are enemies of United Kingdom, he added.
He said after assuming office in June 2013, the focus of the government was on internal security in Pakistan.
“When we took over in June 2013 the security was in a mess. Just check the record as to what was happening in 2013 in Pakistan. There was an average of six to seven terrorist attacks in the country on a daily basis. In one year alone there were more than 2000 attacks taking place in Pakistan.”
He said the government realized that nothing was possible until the security situation was addressed.
So it was in that context that an All Parties Conference was held and the government took the military, intelligence agencies and the entire establishment on board, he added.
“As a first option, we tried for a peaceful solution of the problem by engaging with the militants through a dialogue process.”
The minister said the dialogue process was important to address the apprehensions of not only militants but hundreds and thousands of their facilitators and supporters within Pakistan.
“For eight long months, we involved ourselves in the dialogue process. But when we saw that militants were playing a double game, on one hand they were negotiating with us and on the other were continuing to target our cities and towns we decided to exercise the other option.”
He said so the military operation Zarb-e-Azb was started after getting support of political parties through an APC.
In one and a half year, during the military operation in FATA, a three layered integrated security mechanism of police, civil armed forces including Rangers and FC and armed forces was put in place across the country, he added.
“We had 30,000 military men as rapid response force in all the cities which has now come down to 10,000. The intelligence agencies were activated and 14,000 intelligence based operations have taken place in Pakistan. This effort helped in putting terrorists on trial and creating a database.”
“Now we have weeks, sometimes months in which not a single terrorist incident takes place. So it is huge improvement this year alone, as there has been a decrease of 54% in terrorist attacks over the last eight years.”
“Suicide bombing have gone down by 31% and most of the terrorist activities now have been restricted to FATA and the war zone where the military operation is actually taking place,” he added.
However, Nisar said the war against militancy and terrorism is not over but there is a sea change in the security situation in Pakistan.
The improved security situation provides incentives for increased economic activities, he noted.
Nisar said the militants and their networks have been eliminated within Pakistan but some of them have crossed the border.
“Unfortunately they continue to operate, across the border, within Pakistan and outside Pakistan but naturally their reach is limited. In case where they are across the border their reach is limited to the areas on both sides of the border.”
“We are trying to seal and protect our border. It is a difficult process but we are trying our utmost and ensuring that infiltration across the border by the militants does not take place.”
The minister said Pakistan Society has a role to play in bringing the two countries together.
He asked the High Commission in UK to provide office to Pakistan Society in its building and another office in Pakistan for direct communication with the government.
He invited members of the society to visit Pakistan and seize opportunities for doing business.