Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Thursday that Islamabad was a safe city and refuted reports in the media that it was “an extremely dangerous place”.
A scare had been created and foreign visitors and delegations to the city were concerned, he said at a press conference. He also denied there were major sleeper cells in the city, but wasn’t a hundred per cent sure about the slum areas in the capital. He also denied the presence of al Qaeda and another terrorist group in Islamabad and said the government had surveyed all the inhabitants and knew each and every house in the city and who lived there. He said the data collected would be used only for security purposes. Even the slums were surveyed and each house was registered, he said, adding that there was no foreign agency in the Islamabad.
“Our aim is to make Islamabad safe, we have burnt the midnight oil for this,” he declared. If there were intelligence reports about threats, they would be nipped in the bud. He said the aim was to make all of Pakistan safe as well. While there was a briefing on over all threat perceptions to the country to the Ministry, there was nothing in it to show that the threat level for the capital city was higher, he pointed out. On the contrary, he said it was much lower than in the past when the capital was subjected to many bombings and killings. He said in the recent past there was only one major terrorist incident and the terrorist was killed. He said intelligence agencies had provided information that had cracked several networks and even found a car fitted with explosives in a suburb.
The city has a new Rapid Response Force equipped with stun guns and there is efficient coordination. He said as part of the safe city project, there was a system with technical coordination and the plan was to install 1500 cameras in the city with a central command structure. This would be spread to Rawalpindi as well where all major roads would be covered. Thanks to better intelligence and technology, no major incidents had taken place in the city as compared to five years ago, he pointed out.
An internal security policy is awaiting cabinet approval and there is a plan to train and arm the police. A helicopter force which is with the Interior Ministry will be shared with all the provinces. A joint intelligence directorate comprising all the 26 big and small intelligence agencies will be formed for counter terrorism, he said with National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) as the premier counter terrorist organization to share information, take preemptive measures and ensure coordination.
He said new equipment to defuse bombs, which was currently being done manually, had arrived from China. At least 50 specialised vehicles with eight robots fitted to them would be capable of defusing bombs.
He said intelligence coordination had improved since the new government took over last year and those working in the intelligence agencies were the unsung heroes.