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By Asim Awan
June 07, 2010
ISLAMABAD: Officials of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) complain that the Punjab government has not been cooperating with them in fighting terrorism.
A senior military officer of a leading intelligence agency claimed that the attitude of the Punjab police has been “of almost non-cooperation” in response to advance information provided by his agency regarding a number of terrorism suspects belonging to banned outfits Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba.
On the other hand, the three intelligence agencies have been receiving “excellent cooperation” from the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as well as the administration of the Islamabad Capitol Territory, he added. The official pointed out that as a result of the effective co-ordination between the ISI, MI, IB and the district administration, there has been no major terrorist attack in Islamabad since the Marriott and Police Lines bombings.
There had been many terrorist plans to attack targets in Islamabad, he said, but they had been foiled and the suspects arrested because of the harmonious coordination among all the concerned departments.
“Whenever we provide a lead or a tip to the Khyber-Pakhunkhwa police or the Islamambad police, immediate action is taken. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Punjab,” he said.
To stress his point, the official recalled an incident that took place about one-and-a-half years ago involving the arrest of Major (retired) Haroon on the motorway as he was headed towards Peshawar after having kidnapped an Ahmadi businessman. He said that Major Haroon was also wanted in the assassination of former head of the Special Services Group (SSG) Major-General (retired) Amir Faisal Alvi.
He said that, during interrogation, Major Haroon, himself a former SSG man, revealed that the Taliban had decided to expand their target list, and that the Ahmadis would now also be marked for killings and kidnapping for ransom. He said that this information was provided to the Punjab government but no action was taken by it. He said there had already been some incidents where Ahmadis had been robbed and killed in Faisalabad last year as well as this year. He said, “Now these attacks on Ahmadi places of worship and on Jinnah hospital in Lahore should open the eyes of the Punjab government”.
The official was of the opinion that one reason that the Punjab government has not been interested in taking action against elements linked to the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is that it is counting on their vote bank for the next general elections. The account provided by the senior officer was also confirmed by officials of the other two intelligence agencies.
Spokesman of the Punjab government Senator Pervez Rashid has dismissed the allegations leveled by the intelligence officials. “Why do these intelligence officials remain unnamed? Why don’t they hold a news conference to say this?” said an angry Pervez Rashid, adding that, “If any intelligence official from the armed forces has such a problem, then he should talk to the chief of the army staff and he should bring it up with the chief minister of Punjab. If any civilian intelligence officer has a problem, then he should get the prime minister to talk to the chief minister. And if the chief minister does not listen to them, then they should complain”.
The senator said that the Punjab police had its own complaints of non-cooperation on the part of the federal intelligence agencies. He said the federal agencies only provide vague warnings to the Punjab police. “They may write a letter that there is a threat of a terrorist attack on Friday, but they don’t specify when and where so how can we take action on such a vague warning?” he said.
Senator Rashid also said that the Punjab government’s intelligence arm, the Crime Investigation Department (CID), does not have sophisticated equipment such as mobile phone tracking devices. He said the federal government does not allow such advanced equipment to be provided to provincial departments. “The Punjab police have sacrificed many officers and Jawans in fighting terrorists. How can it be non-serious!” he questioned.
Rashid stressed that what matters is that all concerned should unite in fighting terrorism instead of resorting to the blame game.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 7th, 2010.