Interim Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti on Sunday emphasized zero tolerance for smuggling, maintaining that all state institutions and provincial authorities are committed to eradicating illegal movement of goods and hoarding.
Addressing a press conference alongside caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi in Islamabad, he said an operation against smuggling of wheat, sugar, urea, dollars and other commodities was ongoing. He claimed the operation had thus far recovered thousands of metric tons of sugar and urea from various parts of the country, while 59 people involved in the informal hundi-hawala networks had been taken into custody. “Unfortunately, the elements involved in smuggling have now started hoarding various things,” he said, reiterating warnings that the state machinery was determined to root out smuggling and hoarding networks. He further warned that “strict punishments” would be meted out to any member of his ministry found involved in such activities.
The caretaker minister further said authorities had initiated an operation against illegal immigrants, adding the government would soon announce prize money for anyone who could provide information about smuggling, hoarding and illegal immigration. The FIA and the Interior Ministry, he said, would establish a toll-free number that any Pakistani could call to help the government achieve its goals.
On resurgent militancy, Bugti called for calm, claiming law enforcers were handling it and it was not a cause for panic. Referring to last week’s assault on military checkposts in Chitral, he confirmed that Afghan soil was being used against Pakistan to foment violence. Hoping the interim Afghan government would uphold the Doha agreement and ensure its soil were not used against anyone, he said it was still unclear whether the Chitral attack had been conducted solely by members or the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or whether they had also been supported by Afghan nationals.
“It doesn’t matter who carried out the attack. For us they are all terrorists,” he said, warning that security forces would respond to such attacks in a befitting manner. “Our response will be visible,” he said, while commending the Pakistan Army’s swift response and the Chitralis’ resilience against terrorism. “The government will not allow anyone to impose their agenda through force and will defend every inch of the territory,” he vowed.
To a question on the abduction of six teenage football players in Balochistan, he blamed the banned Balochistan Republican Army, adding that efforts were underway for their recovery.