Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti talked about separatist narratives in Pakistan, describing them as “legitimate voices” during an interview with a private news channel. Bugti acknowledged the influence of separatist propaganda, particularly in certain regions of the country, emphasizing the tangible impact felt in Punjab.
These revelations come amid a missing persons case being heard by the Islamabad High Court, where the court warned of potential legal action against the caretaker prime minister and others if the reunion of missing Baloch students with their families is not facilitated.
During the court hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan disclosed that out of 50 missing students, 22 have been recovered, while 28 remain unaccounted for. Minister Bugti attributed these disappearances to what he termed an “intelligence-driven war” led by the Indian agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
The interim minister further highlighted the delicate nature of the missing persons issue, pointing to the fact that the government-established commission has resolved around 85% of cases since its inception in 2011.
Minister Bugti clarified the fine line between “enforced disappearances and self-disappearance,” citing cases where individuals left their homes following domestic disputes, only to be discovered weeks later having left voluntarily. The minister also acknowledged instances where individuals lost their lives in encounters with security forces, underscoring the complexity of the issue.
Security Forces Assurance for Free and Fair Elections
Switching gears, Minister Bugti addressed the upcoming elections in Pakistan, assuring that all necessary security forces would be provided to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure free and fair elections.
Speaking to a private TV channel, he stated that the ECP would have the required funds from the finance department for conducting general elections. Bugti dismissed security threats for political leaders, except for Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had genuine security concerns, prompting the provision of security during his trip to Quetta.
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Highlighting the mass exodus of nearly 400,000 illegal persons, primarily Afghans, Minister Bugti emphasized the need for proper visa procedures. He welcomed individuals who wish to stay in Pakistan, urging them to go through official channels rather than entering illegally.
Responding to queries about terror incidents, he attributed some criminal activities to illegal Afghan residents and reiterated the constant vigilance of law enforcement agencies against attempts to destabilize Pakistani regions, particularly in Baluchistan, by the Indian RAW.
Minister Bugti addressed concerns about the negative use of social media, advocating for its controlled usage. He emphasized the necessity to combat misinformation and misuse of online platforms to maintain a positive and peaceful environment in Pakistan.