ISLAMABAD  -     The newly appointed Interior Minister retired Brigadier Ijaz Ahmad Shah Wednesday admitted before a Senate panel that Pakistan instead of “becoming a welfare state had become a security state.”

Testifying before the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, the interior minister also said that he was ready to give an in-camera briefing to the committee on the recent statement of Prime Minister Imran Khan that terrorists in the past used Pakistani territory to undertake attacks in Iran and claim of Daesh or IS for carrying out recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.

The interior minister said that he would give an in-camera briefing to the committee on Pakistan’s relations with three countries—India, Afghanistan and Iran—in the wake of emerging security situation in the region. “You cannot change the neighbours but these three countries should be dealt with very seriously,” he said adding that he had served in Balochistan for 10 years and was very well aware of the security matters concerning the province.

“We are worried about the present situation but we have been facing similar kind of situation for the last 70 years,” he said while giving a reference to killings in Omara area of Balochistan. He said it would be inappropriate to publicly share the information, though it would not be earth-shaking.

The minister was responding to the questions posed by chairman committee Rehman Malik and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senators Rana Maqbool Ahmad and Javed Abbasi. Senator Ahmad questioned that what was the confirmation about IS claim that it carried out terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. Senator Abbasi was curious to know about the reasons behind PM’s statement given in Iran. “If PM had claimed on such a big forum, then he must have been given some briefing on it,” he said adding that they should be briefed on the issue. He said that such allegations had been levelled against Pakistan in the past as well, but it was very serious that PM was making such remarks.

Rehman Malik said that he had been claiming for the last three years that Daesh had presence in Pakistan but the government was denying it. He said that the government should take a clear stand on the presence of IS in Pakistan. “Now South Asia is a new venue of terrorism (for Daesh),” he said. He said he had been saying this since the eruption of Arab Spring.

The committee took a strong notice of the reports of construction of a firing range in the Diplomatic Enclave by the US Embassy for which a tender had also been floated in the press. Rehman Malik told from the chief commissioner Islamabad whether a no objection certificate had been obtained by the US Embassy. He directed the Ministry of Interior to brief the committee in detail in the next meeting. He said that no country should be allowed to violate local laws.

However, an official of the Ministry of Interior after the meeting said that a memorandum of understanding to upgrade the firing range had been signed with the ministry in July 2018 during the tenure of then caretaker government. He said that firing range which existed for the past several years was for the use of local police. He added that US had agreed to upgrade the firing range on the request of the Government of Pakistan.