According to this article in The Hindu, the Punjab government has responded to the recent rise in attention to extremism in South Punjab by banning entry of any foreign journalists into seminaries in South Punjab unless they apply for special permission from Foreign Affairs and the Interior Ministry.
This is not a sudden development. Writing in In October, Ayesha Siddiqua said that the Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had criticized her for investigating the Jaish-e-Muhammad seminaries and accused her of looking at the situation through a “western lens”. She had also been criticized in almost the same words by the Jaish-e-Muhammad newsletter. Interestingly, Ayesha Siddiqua mentioned that she went to the Interior Ministry and was given assistance in her investigations but the district government was extremely uncooperative. The much-criticized Interior Minister Rehman Malik has actually mentioned the militancy in South Punjab in very dire terms several times since June this year, even saying that an operation might be in the works against Southern Punjab militants.
Contrast this with the ostrich-like behaviour of Shahbaz Sharif. In today’s Nation there is an article about how the Punjab government is getting tough with suspicious foreigners. Continuing in The Nation’s now world-famous tradition of accusing foreigners of spying and of suspicious activity, the article mentions several suspicious individuals who have been lurking around various parts of Southern Punjab:
Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif has instructed the security officials not to show any leniency to all those foreigners who fail to prove their identity or are allegedly indulged in breach of municipal laws in the province.
I am sure that this decisive and nationalistic move made by Shahbaz Sharif has only endeared him further to his constituents and members of the media. Why deal with or even acknowledge internal problems when they can instead be described in terms of foreign spies and agencies. In the mean time, calls for resignation of Rehman Malik and the current government will loudly continue and we can then look forward to a PML-N government – in which the only anti-terrorism policy will be to literally deny that terrorism even exists.