Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pak terror deaths: Minister defends casualty figures

Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Thursday told the Senate that he stood by the figures given by him on the terror-related deaths in the country while the Opposition members continued with their parallel session outside for the second day on Thursday.

In an unprecedented move, the Opposition members led by Aitzaz Ahsan of the Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) decided to hold a parallel session after boycotting the Senate for over a week due to Mr. Khan's statement on terror-related deaths on October 30. Mr. Ahsan and others said the figures were wrong and the Minister should retract his statement. However, the Interior Minister on Thursday said that he had offered to recheck the figures and they had been given to him by the provincial governments. He said he had reconfirmed that the number of deaths were correct.

The Opposition had issues with only one small portion of his answer which concerned the number of deaths in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he pointed out. In 136 incidents of terrorism reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa between June and October 120 people were killed, the Minister had said. However, Mr. Ahsan and others said the figure was 187 or so.

Mr. Khan dismissed the claims of the Opposition and said these people did not have fear of the law. He said he stood by these figures and the matters ends there.

With reference to the number of casualties due to drone strikes, he said the question was to the Ministry of Defence and these were figures provided by the department. He said the Defence Ministry had since clarified the matter and he didn't see why he was being dragged into a controversy.

The world over it was part of Parliamentary procedure that if a question is challenged, then it is rechecked. He had done his work as per procedure, he reiterated.

However, despite appeals to end the standoff the Opposition has announced that the parallel session will continue on the lawns outside the National Assembly on Friday morning. Attempts to broker peace with the protesting Senators did not make any headway for the second day on Thursday despite many meetings and requests.

According to Nr, Chaudhry Nisar's statement, 12,404 people were killed in terror acts since 2002 and 26,881 injured.

The Minister's reply to the number of terror incidents between June and October 2103 was 636 with 498 civilians and 281 law enforcing personnel being killed. The figures are much more says the Opposition.
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