After a spurt of violence across the city, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) have blamed each other for the drive-by shootings that have claimed at least 30 lives in five days.
On Saturday, there was a flurry of presentations, briefings and consultations, among the Sindh government’s coalition partners, the chief minister, police, rangers and the federal interior minister. But by night, more victims were sent to the morgue.
MQM blames ANP
The MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar categorically blamed the ANP on Saturday for the killing of a party worker on Friday night. Addressing a press conference at the MQM headquarters, Nine Zero, Sattar said, “The ANP’s armed men opened indiscriminate fire on the MQM’s office. As a result, several MQM workers were injured and one of them succumbed to his injuries.”
“The attackers belong to the ANP,” he said. “This statement is being made with complete evidence.”
Sattar said that under Bacha Khan, the ANP was a political grouping, but now the party had turned into a drug, land and armed mafia. He said criminals belonging to the party were involved in extortion. “They are grabbing lands and properties at gunpoint and blackmailing people for money,” claimed Sattar.
All the security agencies support the MQM’s stance that the root cause of the target killings and the unrest in the city is the land mafia, maintained Sattar. The Sindh government established the anti-encroachment cell to operate against the land mafia and enforce the writ of the government. The cell managed to retrieve government land worth billions of rupees. Even when the government operated against them, they opened fire on the police, Sattar said, adding that whenever the government tries to operate against them, it faces heavy retaliation. He demanded that the government take strict action against the land mafia.
“If we want to establish peace in the city, then we have to act strongly against them. The MQM is making this statement with 80 per cent of the people’s mandate in Karachi.”
“If we go through last year’s newspapers, we can see that whenever such criminals are arrested, they have connections with the Taliban and other terrorist organisations, he said.
Despite such a big setback, the MQM chief has instructed the party to tolerate such incidents, said Sattar but added that their tolerance was limited if provoked.
Claiming that the MQM is being targeted by criminals, he demanded that the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party take strict measures against target killings and the violence in the city.
ANP blames MQM
Calling the MQM a terrorist organisation, the ANP’s Shahi Syed said that it started the target killings after the Baldia anti-encroachment operation sponsored by the City District Government, Karachi (CDGK) on July 15.
Talking to the media at his house on Saturday, Syed said, “They started the killings to maintain their control over the lands they have encroached.”
A meeting of the coordination committee was to be held on July 16 in which the operation had to be finalised, he explained. “But without notice, the operation began a day earlier and MQM workers went to the goths with the anti-encroachment cell and opened fire at the residents.”
He said that during the July 16 meeting, the ANP condemned the way the operation was carried out and presented data on the land grabbed by the MQM: the dispensary plot in North Nazimabad, Baldia Town, a playground near Muhammad Ali Shah ground, Altaf Nagar, 280 acres of land of Gutter Baghicha and a water treatment plant in Mahmoodabad.
The coordination committee, according to Shahi Syed, was supposed to order an operation against the encroachers in these areas as well. But in order to disrupt the chances of any operation, the MQM resorted to target killings, the ANP leader claimed.
“Why should anti-encroachment operations be conducted only in goths? They should be conducted in the heart of the city where recreational areas have been encroached upon,” he said. “Is not the MQM accused of killing more than 500 political activists including members of the PML-N, PPP, Sunni Tehreek and the ANP?”
Ever since the MQM was made, there has been unrest and bloodshed in Karachi, he said, adding that the Urdu-speaking community have lost the most blood.
He condemned the firing outside the MQM’s Gulistan-e-Jauhar office, but said, “A Pathan never forgets to take revenge, even after 100 years.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 201.