ISLAMABAD - Former interior minister and senior leader of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Rehman Malik has said that militant organization—Daesh or Islamic State, and India’s ultra-right paramilitary volunteer organization—Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), pose serious threat to peace of South Asia.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation and the Nawa-i-Waqt, the bureaucrat-turned-politician said that militants of Daesh were getting training in India and Afghanistan to destabilise the region. “The nexus of Daesh and RSS will prove fatal for the region,” he said adding that South Asia was now going to become another trouble point for the world.

Brief Introduction: Senator Rehman Malik represents the opposition party—PPP—and has a vast experience to serving in bureaucracy and politics. He as the former federal interior minister of the country has a strong grasp on the issues ranging from national security to foreign affairs. He remained the minister when the country was passing through a very significant phase of war on terror. He is also the recipient of highest civil awards; Nishan-e-Imtiaz and Sitara-i-Shujaat.

In the past, he had worked as additional director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) besides serving many key positions in the agency.

He is the author of a book “Modi’s War Doctrine - Indian Anti-Pakistan Syndrome” and his new book “Daish - ISIS-Rising Monster World Wide” is coming soon. Besides this, he is a regular columnist in major dailies of the country.

Presently, Senator Malik is the chairman of Senate Standing Committee on Interior. He is also a member of house committees on defence, foreign affairs, information technology and Kashmir affairs and Gilgit Baltistan.

During the interview, he spoke on wide-ranging issues from human rights to economy to Pak-India relations. His responses are as followed:

Q: How do you see the security situation of the region and does any militant organization pose a threat to the region?

Senator Malik: I stress that Arab-based militant organization Daesh and India’s RSS pose a serious threat to the region and they want to make South Asia another trouble point for the world.

I often use the term Daesh-ism and RSS-ism for both these organizations respectively and you can see that their nexus first kick started a conflict between Christians and Muslims in Sri Lanka following terrorist attacks there. Now both these wanted to shift this clash to India only to victimize Muslim minority there. I can remind you that IS itself had claimed responsibility for Sri Lankan attacks.

In my upcoming book, I have explained role of the Daesh in destabilization of world peace. Daesh chief Abubakr Al-Baghdadi had been living in Turkey in the past and now he is based in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. The two districts of the province are under his command and China and Pakistan need to be worried on that situation.

Q: How do you see the overall security situation of the country?

Senator Malik: After Eidul Fitr, I am seeing terrorists activating and thus terrorism incidents would increase. May my prediction prove wrong! But let me say that country’s armed forces and other law enforcement agencies have given sacrifices of their lives to ensure peace in the country. I appreciate their efforts. We should not discourage our security forces while they are fighting against terrorists.

Q: What would be the impact of victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party on Pakistan? Are there any chances of having good relations between the two neighbours?

Senator Malik: After the election of Narendra Modi as PM for the second term, Pakistan would have to review its foreign policy as I don’t see any melting of ice between both the countries under the Modi regime. Rather, I am seeing more freezing of ice after this. It is unfortunate that Modi did not invite Prime Minister Imran Khan to his oath-taking ceremony.

Extremism is on the rise in India after the victory of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2019 General Elections with the support of RSS. It is regretful that those involved in 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing have been elected and now they would be visible in the cabinet of Modi.

Indian PM would succumb to RSS and he would do whatever the Hindu nationalist group wants. RSS is a terrorist organization and Modi is its member. Indian PM would do whatever charter of RSS says and the group’s charter wants to make realise the dream of “Akhand Baharat or Greater India.”

Modi and RSS both wanted to change the status of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK), and build a Hindu temple at the place where 16th-century Babri Mosque was demolished in district Uttar Pradesh of India in 1992. Muslims would not get their due share in power under Modi government.

Narendra Modi was behind Pulwama attack in IoK and he also told a lie about making surgical strikes in Pakistan only to get anti-Pakistan sentiment for his election campaign. Modi wants to take India on the verge of dictatorship.

Note: RSS, a Hindu umbrella group in India, is considered as the ideological inspiration for PM Modi’s right wing BJP and it advocates and promotes a Hindu nationalistic agenda under the banner of “Hindutva”.

Q: Then, what should be your message for India?

Senator Malik: India should stop diverting and using water from Pakistan’s shares, and avoid intervening in the two provinces of Pakistan including Balochistan. We know from where India is funding the people of Balochistan to destabilize Pakistan. I demand from PM Modi to stop committing atrocities in IOK and sit with Pakistan to get Kashmir and water issues resolved. I also demand that an international war crime commission should be formed to investigate Modi on charges of war crime. Modi is not only the butcher of Gujarat but also of the butcher of Kashmiris.

Q: You as chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior have taken notice of injustices being done with the victim families of Samjhauta Express bombing, what are the details?

Senator Malik: Two Pakistanis are still in custody of India in connection with this case and it also wanted to get statement of its own choice from Rana Shaukat—a Pakistani eyewitness in the case. The victim families of missing persons in the blast have moved two applications for registration of separate cases in Sargodha and Hafiz Abad, both districts of Punjab.

We will send statements of eyewitnesses and other victim families to India and would get form a commission in this connection. I want to give a clear message to India that we will not let loose this train bombing case. Indian army and its intelligence agency—Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)—were behind this bombing that killed at least 69 people including more than 42 Pakistanis.

Q: How do you see the on-going tensions between US and Iran?

Senator Malik: I don’t see any possibility of initiation of war between US and Iran. I am sure that a backdoor diplomacy might be underway between the two arch rivals as I am a witness of such kind of backdoor negotiations in the past.

Q: How do you see over all progress on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)?

Senator Malik: Efforts are under way to attack CPEC, sometimes by bringing marriages scandal of Chinese with Pakistani girls and sometimes through other means. RAW and intelligence agencies of west are working on a plan to undermine the project. I want to disclose today that a country wanted that CPEC and Gwadar Port projects should not go in the right direction. Iran has also been misled.

The Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is in custody of Pakistan, also had a mandate to destabilize CPEC. Some Sunni and Shia leaders also worked against CPEC. China is the part of Pakistan’s protection group and we have to look into this matter seriously. Russian and two other countries would also be part of this group.

Q: Whether you see any fate of the on-going US-Taliban peace talks with Pakistan playing the role of facilitator?

Senator Malik: Any agreement in this regard would have an impact on Pakistan. My assessment is that US will not pull out from Afghanistan and it only wanted to make Taliban part of government in Kabul. We would have to understand who made the militant organizations like Taliban, Al-Qaeda and IS.

I regret that Muslims all over the world are victims of this terrorism. Why terrorism is only in Muslim countries and this is because of a well-thought out plan. I personally think that UN should be shut down because it has become a tool to promote interests of the west. I had once proposed to form a Muslim army.

Q: Your party leadership is facing alleged scandal of fake accounts, what is your view on the case?

Senator Malik: Zardari Business Group is facing allegation of only Rs 30 million out of the scandal of worth billions of rupees being probed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). I question that if some private firms have opened Benami accounts, how they can be connected with the Zardari Group?

There is a character assassination going on against my party leadership in this case. My party should file a defamation case. I also advise media to show responsibility while covering such cases. Media itself becomes investigator, prosecutor and the judge.

As a former investigation officer, I could say that it was not a case of money laundering framed against my leadership. I repeat three times this is not a case of money laundering. If money laundering is committed, proceeds of crime is always involved in it. Where the proceeds of crime in the case is?

On one side, Pakistan claims before Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-money laundering watchdog, that it is not involved in money laundering; on other side, our anti-corruption agencies frame such cases only to embarrass us at international front.

Q: Government is claiming that opposition is seeking an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) like deal it, is it true?

Senator Malik: Government is claiming that it would not withdraw from its promise of holding accountability. I welcome it but this is not your mandate as it is mandate of NAB and other agencies. Let them do this. Then government says that it would not make any NRO like deal to give opposition an immunity from opposition parties. Whether anti-corruption watchdog worked under it and not an independent body?

I also want to make it clear that it is a flawed concept that PPP signed NRO with the then President General (retd.) Pervez Musharraf. We never signed any NRO.

Q: When the opposition parties are planning an anti-government movement, how do you see a recent meeting between Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz leader Ms Maryam Nawaz?

Senator Malik: PPP has a clear stance that it stood by democracy. PM Imran Khan should sit with all parliamentary parties to steer the country out of the present crisis. PM should summon a joint session of the parliament and take it into confidence over all problems. The way ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is dealing with parliament would not work as masses are angry over bad performance of government. PTI should create an atmosphere of collective unity. The government should set its objectives and make pragmatic policies.

Q: Being the chairman of Senate Interior Committee, how do you see the status of implementation of National Action Plan against terrorism?

Senator Malik: Frankly speaking, I say that both incumbent PTI and last PML-N governments failed to implement its 20 points. It needs be revised now. I would again urge that PM Imran Khan should summon a joint sitting and place its economic, foreign, and national security policies before it to give a way forward.

Q: whether the incumbent PTI government is giving due importance to the parliament?

Senator Malik: The government has not placed CPEC on the floor of the parliament. It is not giving due importance to the parliament, you can see its consequences that Sardar Akhtar Mengal, the chief of Balochistan National Party-Mengal and collation partner of the government, has apparently detached itself from the government. It would be important that what would be the decision of Muttahida Qaumi Movement, another coalition partner of government, would be in future. Some within the government also opposing its policies. And some unelected people had made their way into the government. This would have to be seen how PM Khan moves forward to steer the country out of this crisis.

Q: Are you satisfied with government’s action against proscribed organizations and what is the fate of military courts?

Senator Malik: I have moved a bill in the parliament seeking minimum and maximum punishments for those organizations and individuals violating proscription orders of the government. Earlier, there is very nominal punishment in the law for such violations. The violation should have punishment of at least 7 years of imprisonment and it should be made a non-bailable offence.

Similarly, we still do not have proper definitions of terror financing and money laundering and I have proposed some amendments in the relevant laws.

About the fate of military courts, I would say that government is so far unmoved on the matter and it has to take the final decision.

Q: Lawyers are protesting over filing of references by the government against two judges of the superior judiciary, what is your view on it?

Senator Malik: I as former officer of FIA would say that a prior permission from the Supreme Judicial Council has to be taken before opening any inquiry against a judge. The government never sought such permission in the instant case.

Q: How do you see economy of the country, do you see any relief for the masses under this government?

Senator Malik: The inflation is on the rise and our growth rate is on the decrease. I don’t see any positive change in first nine months of this government. The government against its claims approached the International Monetary Fund and did not take seriously the CPEC project.

The government should decrease prices of gas, electricity, petroleum products and kitchen items. I am very much concerned over the recent devaluation of rupee against dollar. Unfortunately, PTI government did not take required steps to increase the growth rate. I had earlier said that I was seeing increase in exchange rate of rupee against dollar. I think the dollar rate would go up to Rs 160 per dollar.

There is flight of capital from the country because of the crackdown of anti-corruption watchdogs like Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on businessmen.

Q: Senate Interior Committee is also looking into complaints of cybercrime, whether there are some weaknesses in the relevant laws or in its implementation?

Senator Malik: I am going to suggest a law that any private conversation on social media between two persons should not be made public unless permission by a court of law. There are around 20,000 complaints of cybercrime pending with FIA and the staff dealing with such cases was very low in number. There is need to work further to curb increasing cybercrime and to improve cybersecurity in the country.

Q: What is the situation of child abuse cases, as your committee is looking into many such cases?

Senator Malik: The committee has taken up many such cases. But the rise in child abuse cases including Zainab case and 10-year old Farishta case clearly reflects that there is some lacuna in the law. According to a government report, more than 18000 child abuse cases have been reported only in four years. In my personal capacity, I had suggested for a public hanging in these cases. It is high time to bring a new law to prevent child abuses.

Malik says IS, RSS pose serious threat to S Asia

Don’t see melting of ice between Islamabad, Delhi

Accountability a mandate of NAB, not govt

NAP should be revised now

Laments people involved in Samjhauta Express bombing elected to Indian parliament

RAW, Western spy agencies working to undermine CPEC