Unusual statement: Army weighs in on Karachi violence

Published: August 8, 2011

Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani presiding over the 141st Corps Commanders' Conference held at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: 

Days after exhortations by political parties for an intervention, top military commanders on Monday voiced concern over the worsening security situation in Karachi – the army’s first statement on the ethnic and political violence in the country’s financial capital.

The military brass had remained silent – at least in the public realm – despite requests by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) for the army to be deployed in the city to quell the uncontrolled violence, which has claimed over 800 lives this year.

The government has been widely criticised for not being able to handle the situation.

(Read: Actors in Karachi)

But army’s silence was broken, in a terse, but significant statement on Monday, following a corps commanders meeting chaired by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

The meeting discussed the security situation in the country, particularly in Karachi, at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi. According to the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR), the army brass expressed concern “over the law and order situation in Karachi and its ramifications or implications on the national economy.”

The army hoped that the measures recently taken by the government would help end the violence in the city which accounts for around a fifth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The unusual statement issued after a corps commanders’ meeting appears to suggest the army is running out of patience with the civilian authorities to control the deteriorating law and order situation.

Though the military has a history of acting beyond its mandate in the past, under Gen Kayani public statements on matters considered to be the domain of the civilian government have been rare. However, they have been far from completely absent.

The army’s public disquiet on the Karachi situation came just a week after the MQM and ANP called for the deployment of army troops to end the bloodshed. However, the ISPR statement did not say if the military was going to be deployed in Karachi.

A tentative calm has held since the government last week deployed hundreds of extra security forces in the troubled neighbourhoods of the city. The military said the government measures should “help redress the situation”.

Karachi has been in the grip of political and ethnic violence for months with the law-enforcement agencies struggling to restore normalcy in the city.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says 800 people, most of them poor, have died since January, including 300 last month alone.

“People have been killed because of their political affiliations, but it seems most are killed because of their ethnic background,” Zohra Yusuf, chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told AFP. “The majority of them are poor and destitute.”

Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters in Karachi that the government had taken steps to clear out stockpiles of illegal weapons by cancelling all firearm licences at the end of the month, forcing owners to reapply.

“At present some licence holders have illegally acquired hundreds of weapons on a single licence, which will end next month,” said Malik.

“From September anyone caught with a weapon with the old licences will be dealt with seriously. Such people could be tried in anti-terrorism courts and get sentences of seven to 14 years,” he added. However, previous government promises to confiscate stockpiles of unlicenced weapons in Karachi have come to nothing.

The human rights organisations say the violence in Karachi is the deadliest since 1995, when more than 900 killings were reported in the first half of the year.

(With additional input from AFP)

Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (54)

  • Muzammil
    Aug 8, 2011 - 4:07PM

    It is good that the military have finally woken up …..

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  • Aug 8, 2011 - 4:08PM

    Vienna,08-08-2011
    The corps commanders appear to be the supreme authority
    of the sovereign Pakistan even today. Democratic Pakistan
    is floating and drifting. I hope the situation on law and
    order not in Karachi only but in the entire territory of
    Pakistan improves. Other wise, like the naval float
    land forces may have to be dispersed to engage the
    hidden enemy within.
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring,TTTMM India
    –Kulamarva Balakrishna

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  • John
    Aug 8, 2011 - 4:27PM

    Everyone looks happy in the pic… I think the article is misleading… Pakistani military doesn’t care about pakistan anymore.. ha ha ha..

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  • pardesi
    Aug 8, 2011 - 5:21PM

    military should maove to safe locations to escape violence…

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  • Master
    Aug 8, 2011 - 5:39PM

    @John,
    The happy because they are really fighting against real enemy USRecommend

  • AnisAqeel
    Aug 8, 2011 - 6:16PM

    To maintain law and order in Karachi is imperative but please do not concur it just go in only on the request of civilian authority and go back to the barracks were military belong to. And thanks for thinking of only Karachi and not whole Pakistan.

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  • Incredible
    Aug 8, 2011 - 6:54PM

    @Master: Can you name the enemy who has killed 35,000+ Paki?

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  • Mohammad naeem
    Aug 8, 2011 - 6:59PM

    And this should not b any excuse for any extra constitutional act by army over the democratic process instead they should keep their house in order to keep the country from extrnal forces!

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  • ehsan
    Aug 8, 2011 - 7:39PM

    @Nadeem…..have they kept their own house clean from political( like Hizbul Tehrir), extremist and terrorist forces….??
    Yes they have the guns purchased from our bread and they can kill us with these guns.Recommend

  • biryani
    Aug 8, 2011 - 8:39PM

    how about genocide and mass murder in kurram and khayber ?? i think the number of ppl killed there is at least 3 times more then killed in karachi….

    so our dear frens are concerned now …watch out !!

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  • Hammad Ali
    Aug 8, 2011 - 8:45PM

    It is none of their business to show concerns regarding political or internal security matters. This is the job of civilians and they should act or express anything only after consulting with civilians authorities.

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  • Mirza
    Aug 8, 2011 - 9:06PM

    Thankfully after the blood bath in Karachi has stopped, our generals are “now” showing concern! Thanks for being vigilant and helping the civilian govt!

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  • Aug 8, 2011 - 9:09PM

    ten soldiers died in S Waziristan today, how about doing something about that?

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  • Fayaz Shah
    Aug 8, 2011 - 9:13PM

    I just wonder why the government is taking the step to cancel all the licences.. why not home to home search in order to confiscate the illegal weapons. why cancel the licences to leave the innocent public on the mercy of the terrorists.. is not that taking right to defence oneself and the homes..
    please deal with the terrorists practically not only the statements which we see on television time to time without any results.
    and leave the peaceful citizens on their own and do not confiscate the licenced weapons

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Aug 8, 2011 - 9:30PM

    Thank you Officers of Pakistan Army for discussing the ongoing unabated target killings in Karachi after hundreds of innocent people have been killed.

    Target killers need to be dealt with iron hand and no other forces can deal with the target killers; expect the Jawans of Pakistan Army.

    You people should not sit ideal and become silent spectators, while the politically elected representatives are not capable to deal with the situation.

    The precedents of target killings is that when target killers need a break, they stop killing people, but after the break is over, more people are killed than before.

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  • Mukhtar Ahmed
    Aug 8, 2011 - 9:39PM

    Corps Commanders have no business to show any concern on Karachi,it is a provincial matter. It will be more appropriate if they confine themselves to operational matters and that is not to be made public. If at all they wanted to show concern it was the time when for 3 days people were butchered not now when peace is prevailing . We still love our armed forces and they need not worry

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  • Huzaifah
    Aug 8, 2011 - 10:06PM

    Dear Generals,

    Just don’t make concerns over the situation. Its time to act. Stop supporting the government of corruption, looters, hoodlums, murderers land grabbers, opportunist , and much more. Just call a KMC records from dog hunting depart. they have killed less dogs in last one year than those people have murdered on the street of Karachi. Its the will of the people.

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  • Action
    Aug 8, 2011 - 11:01PM

    Glad military is finally paying attention to a far too much detiorated situation in Karachi. When the sitaution becomes so bad at the heart of the country then it is big signal and a red flag that security has been compromised overall. And that military must be ready to protect as it is their ‘Calling’.
    There is no excuse to lose so many innocent civillian lives!!

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  • Nadeem Ahmed
    Aug 8, 2011 - 11:08PM

    The people of Pakistan are concerned too. Top brass used to welcome such situations and few times created to overthrow civilian governments. Now situation is ten times worse than previous adventures and they are doing nothing.

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  • Siddh
    Aug 9, 2011 - 12:17AM

    Sadly all they can do is ‘express concerns’ coz a soldier with property worth millions cannot afford to lose his life in the line of fire

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  • Peace
    Aug 9, 2011 - 1:45AM

    The politicians job is administration and Army’s job is security of the nation. Politicians are made of a different mold and security is not their skill and expertise. When lives are being lost and a blood bath goes on then it is no time for politics. It is time for Army to jump in and catch the highly sophisticated and advanced foreign funded criminal otherwise it will slip away to get ready for next round of killings damaging the very democracy. This cycle has been repeated too many times and for the Army not to protect its citizens is highly questionable. For Army to protect its citizens is no threat to democracy, infact it will strengthen democracy by bringing in peace and calm to its citizens, so they can go about their business and live and work normally in the true democractic spirit.

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  • Malik Sajjad
    Aug 9, 2011 - 2:00AM

    @Incredible:
    “Can you name the enemy who has killed 35,000+ Paki?”
    Yes with the help of you Indians.

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  • Malik Sajjad
    Aug 9, 2011 - 2:26AM

    @John:
    Mr.John you have no right to say this type of BS against our Army. we respect your Army and you have to give us respect too.we are fighting your War in Afghanistan and its the Reaction of War which happened in Karachi these days also in whole Pakistan. Recommend

  • Realist.
    Aug 9, 2011 - 5:10AM

    Crore Commanders should NOT show their concerns over political matters.
    its not their job!!

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  • Amir
    Aug 9, 2011 - 5:30AM

    This is absolutely NOT good if army intervene. This is clearly another trap to engage army on another front. This will give UN and NATO an opportunity to make a case against Paksitan army by saying ‘Army is killing civilians in operation’.
    Civilian govt is saving its back by pushing another responsibility on Army. In case operation goes fail will be easy to point finger ( as usual) on Army.

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  • Aug 9, 2011 - 6:22AM

    If you are not satisfied with your Army, I think we have the option of hiring Indian/American soldiers to defend Pakistan. In my opinion we are in habit of criticising Army with negative shades. Why can’t we appreciate our soldiers for the work they are doing for us- Pakistan. See the sacrifices they have made in bringing peace to this nation. Criticising while sitting in comfortable rooms is very easy but fighting enemy in difficult terrain is quite difficult. Pak Army Zinda Bad, the real Pakistanies respect & love you.

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  • H.A. Khan
    Aug 9, 2011 - 6:26AM

    The concern expressed is valid and real and if something significant is not done to bring peace and security to Karachi, the economy of the country will suffer very badly and this will become a bigger security issue.

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  • Right step
    Aug 9, 2011 - 6:27AM

    @Amir – Civillians are alreaday being killed by funded criminals. Army should be trusted without worrying what another country thinks or says. Honesty should never be compromised or be afraid of what any other entity thinks or says. Army should take action to prevent killing and foreign terrorist funded infiltration in the very fabric of Pakistan. If this blood bath continues, then it may become even more complicated for the Army. Now is the time. Army can play a limited temporary role for the security of its citizens. All those citizens being made insecure, injured and losing the lives of their loved ones will welcome the Army in a heart beat. One has to be unselfish and think about the security of the nation and innocent lives.

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  • Ayaz
    Aug 9, 2011 - 7:03AM

    i believe its good that the armed forces are concerned about the worsening situation in Karachi, its their every right too, as they’re the security forces, and even if army played the role in settling the issue, by suggesting the govt to introduce Nazim system back in the province, i appreciate this move by the army.

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  • Ayaz
    Aug 9, 2011 - 7:11AM

    i wonder what makes people believe that the army has no right to intervene, even in the security issues, i ask, WHAT HAS THE CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT GIVEN US TILL NOW? situation throughout the country has only worsened during this so-called democratic system. and we still feel its good for “democracy” (even this regime) to continue? Talking about democracy where more than 60% people dont even know what the word means, cant even spell their name? where most of the population is forced to “vote” in favor of the local chaudhary or wadera? this is NOT democracy, democracy can only exist where the masses know what is democracy!

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  • M.Akthar
    Aug 9, 2011 - 9:07AM

    If army stands the election they’ll win easily. Why cant kayani stand in elections? Constitution must be changed to allow army to stand elections.

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  • ashok sai
    Aug 9, 2011 - 9:56AM

    Is this statement comes with the permission from President or the Prime Minister ???

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  • MK
    Aug 9, 2011 - 10:25AM

    What does this picture tells? every one looks isolated, no connection;)

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  • Mirza
    Aug 9, 2011 - 10:28AM

    @M.Akthar:

    First of all it is against constitution and high treason for army to take over. With the independent courts it is not going to be tolerated this time. Your justification is like the bank watchman takes over the bank because it was not run properly! The army’s performance against terrorists and in 1948, 1965, 1970, Kargil and being found in bed with OBL have been so great that they should acquire more responsibilities. Army cannot protect itself and its bases and ships from the terrorists in its own ranks who can it protect every institution in the nation. Why no army general would contests elections on its own and proves their popularity? They only use unconstitutional way to take over the power and not via free and fair elections.
    @Ayaz: I hope they contest the elections on their own and find out the truth. However, they do not dare do that.
    Regards,
    Mirza

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  • Noor
    Aug 9, 2011 - 10:30AM

    Whenever Army comes in, it will get mandate from civilian govt. No way it can take things in its own hands, without authorization, esp when foreign controlled govt is in place, aiding these foreign forces to defame the army.

    It seems that the situation is being developed so as to commit army into another trap, and weaken its grip over eastern borders and be at mercy of all-time shrewd enemy. This enemy stabs in the back, because it is not capable to face the ‘Pakistani jazba’ from front.

    Army should be the last resort, when nothing else works and all other agencies ‘hands up’ from the situation.

    If army comes in, it should not waste a single bullet. Its aim should be to deal with the criminals ruthlessly.

    If, even army is not taken seriously, then some outsider/invader will have to come to sort us out.

    May Allah guide us all to better decisions. Ameen.

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  • Aug 9, 2011 - 10:35AM

    Their silence was appropriate. But, with so many people calling to them and the not-so-distant past in mind I’d imagine it’s hard to not point out they’ve heard it. It should stay that way. Even if it looks cold and is different than what some people are used to, the action of not taking action is one of the biggest efforts seen coming out of Pakistan of them actually trying to create a valid democracy.
    It’s not ignoring it. It’s waiting for the right governmental circumstances to come together allowing things to run the intended course.

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  • Saddique
    Aug 9, 2011 - 10:46AM

    @Incredible:

    USE the united states of america

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  • hallaj
    Aug 9, 2011 - 11:19AM

    Too little too late.
    How many more lives will be sacrificed before army will intercede in Karachi?

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  • mf hussain
    Aug 9, 2011 - 12:12PM

    Funny how the institution that has plundered the national exchequer the most is concerned about the economy.
    It is not the militarys job to comment on civilian matters, they are supposed to secure the borders. So they should shut up.
    It is only when we realize this and put this army in its place is when we will start to progress

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  • R S JOHAR
    Aug 9, 2011 - 12:40PM

    It is quite surprising that Generals in Pakistan comment on civilian matters and get away with it. It doesnt happen in India or other democratic countries of the world. May be this statement has grave implications for Pakistan in the coming future.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Aug 9, 2011 - 12:49PM

    @Malik Sajjad:
    I know that you guys simply are not capable of thinking on any issue without your Indian Phobia, as you are stuck to this from the Hip, but get real for god sake and show some maturity and logic when questioning as to who was responsible for all these deaths in Pakistan!!!

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  • Umar
    Aug 9, 2011 - 1:08PM

    Kiyani must be fired. He with the 60% eater of Pakistan budget forces could not save GHQ, Mehran Base, OBL, Lahore Naval Office, Tribal Areas, they must not concerned about political issues. Kashmir and Kargil are still at large.

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  • Kashif Siddiqui
    Aug 9, 2011 - 2:44PM

    I cant believe the comments of the people telling the Army to mind its own business! WAKE UP!
    What planet are you on?!?! Have you seen the situation of the country today! Have you seen how it has deteriorated! The civilian government is a sham! This govt is a Farce! We need the army now more than ever! Look around you and see what this government has done in the past three years. We are one step away from the destruction of this country. The Army better get involved otherwise there will be no Pakistan left for these mornonic imbeciles to suck dry and exploit for their own ends! Wake up for Goodness sake!

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  • Pundit
    Aug 9, 2011 - 5:43PM

    “top military commanders on Monday voiced concern over the worsening security situation in Karachi “

    When will the commanders voice concern about power generation, uncontrolled inflation…..and so on…

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  • H ansari
    Aug 10, 2011 - 1:58AM

    800 lives later the Pakistani army issues a statement. wow ! This is an Eye opener for Pakistan ! (taking mental notes).

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  • Ali Akbar Khan (Islamabad)
    Aug 10, 2011 - 2:16AM

    All this can be avoided by uniting the population under 1 banner: MARCH TO FREE KASHMIR! In under a minute, armies of the faithful will collect, united, under our banner and march, and will not stop till India has been driven out. We do not need to collect any weapons; all of them will be used to destroy the heathens.

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  • Malik Sajjad
    Aug 10, 2011 - 4:57AM

    @Umar:
    Hay what are you saying ? Just think we are fighting with the world and our Army enemies are from outside and inside(like you). So just comments Positive not give Statements to Generals.Comments on Internet is easier than Instructions and Commands of Army in Fields, in Grounds realities.So let them do what they are doing.They are with us all.Last Thing, who cannot respect their Elders he can’t do anything in his life. Sorry to say your behavior with your Parents will be same which you shown above.
    Please think if we lose hopes then what will happend with our Women and Child So be a Man and think like a Brave Man. We can WIN on one condition if every person give the right Information to the relevant department of any type of Crime even a misbehaviour. you can get numbers from 1217.

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  • Malik Sajjad
    Aug 10, 2011 - 5:16AM

    @Hedgefunder:
    You are all (USA and India) Responsible for all these deaths in Pakistan.
    We are saying right everytime, that Indians took a role with our every Enemy. If we are not Capable of thinking then who Break the Last Super Power(Russia), America or India ? for your bad Information, that was Pakistan, who break and torn into pieces of Russia.
    So Mr.HIPPY whats up Now. ??? Stuck or Duzz? …

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  • Aug 10, 2011 - 8:22AM

    I wish I could say army deployment will control things but it’s hard to forget 1995.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Aug 10, 2011 - 1:53PM

    @Malik Sajjad:
    You need to look at yourself in the mirror first!!!
    The troubles in Karachi and elsewhere in Pakistan are all self inflicted, so get real! and be brave to acknowledge the facts for once!!
    As then it would be classed as progress!!!!

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  • Malik Sajjad
    Aug 10, 2011 - 6:05PM

    @Hedgefunder:
    My Answer is up to you on One Condition. Go to Church,Mandir or your Worship Area and give the answer that you all are not responsible for anything wrong in Pakistan. Answer me when you done this but with HONESTLY.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Aug 10, 2011 - 8:30PM

    @Malik Sajjad:
    How can you possibly hold other nations and its people responsible for the events unfolding in your own backyard???
    Trust me, if there was any doubt as to the culprits causing mayhem and spreading havoc across your country, by any foreign interests , the Pakistani Govt would have had a field day in International Media !!!
    But sadly they are well aware that this is internal political conflicts in Karachi and Jihadis in the rest of the country, so no one to blame!!!
    Ask the people of Karachi, as to who is responsible for the mess in their city??
    Facts are hard to swallow!!Recommend

  • Truth Prevails
    Sep 5, 2011 - 6:32PM

    @Incredible:
    yes, his name is ‘the one who killed 1 million humans in Iraq’

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  • Straight Fire
    Sep 5, 2011 - 6:54PM

    @Hedgefunder:
    Let the US get itself moved out completely from Afghanistan then tell us whose problem is whose …Recommend

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