Defence expert major general PK Sehgal on Saturday condemned the Pakistan government’s decision to reverse its order on people having suspected links with terrorists and removal of names under the Anti-Terrorism Act, saying such a move is “detrimental” to peace in the subcontinent.
His comments came after Pakistan decided to revoke its earlier order blocking the national identity cards and passports of individuals suspected of links to militant, sectarian or proscribed organisations. Names were also removed under the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997.
“After being exposed internationally, United Nations General Assembly, UN Human Right Commission, ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations), SAARC(South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), BIMSTEC(The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and under pressure from the Pakistani people, the government of Pakistan had taken a decision to revoke the passports and identity cards of those people who are suspected to have links with terrorism and certain types of madrassas,” said Sehgal.
Adding that the government has bowed to pressure from terrorists, he said, “It’s quite apparent that after this meeting, the Pakistani government has wilted under pressure from those who really are dictating terms in Pakistan and that are the atankwadis (terrorists).”
“The government has bowed in front of them and has revoked its earlier decision, which is once again detrimental to the peace in the sub-continent and beyond,” he added.
Expressing similar sentiments, senior journalist Rahul Jalali said, “It seems Pakistan is playing to its tune that even those that they had blocked, they are letting them free. Obviously, it shows how the Pakistan government is closely inter-linked with terrorists. Even those who were proscribed are now being let free. This goes to show that Pakistan is the main sponsor of terrorism in the state.”
Pakistan Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan made it clear that citizenship of suspected terrorists included in the fourth schedule of the anti-terrorism law could not be taken away.
He added that religious seminaries played a pivotal role in re-establishing peace in the country hence no one would be allowed to target them under any pretext.
Prominent names on the list include some well-known religious personalities.