Far from formulating a strategy, the government seems hard-pressed to find the right words to warn those behind the unabated violence in Karachi.
Reeling from heavy criticism of its perceived inability, and unwillingness to tackle the situation in Karachi, the government on Tuesday issued a statement, originating from the Sindh Chief Minister House, warning the criminal elements responsible for the killings to “leave Karachi and go elsewhere, or else stringent, exemplary action would be taken against them.”
The awkward statement came in for intense criticism – so much so that the government had to retract the statement, and clarify what it meant to say: “extortionists have not been asked to leave the city, but warning is issued to them to stop their activities otherwise action will be taken against them and such action will be an exemplary.” It then also sent a revised statement.
The faux pas could not have come at a worse time for the government, or those supporting its stance that it can handle the situation in Karachi. In recent weeks, there has been a burgeoning debate over whether or not the Army should be called into the city.
The calls to send in the jackboots have increased in recent days. And while the government has stayed firm in its resolve that it is capable of handling the situation, the prime minister on Monday warned authorities to get their act, hinting that, otherwise, the military could step in.
The person who has borne the brunt of criticism is Rehman Malik – who is notorious for his off-the-cuff remarks.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2011.