KARACHI: Target killings and extortion in Karachi have stopped as a result of action taken by law enforcement agencies, said the federal interior minster Rehman Malik on Monday.
“There were no target killings in the city on Sunday because of the action that we took,” he said while speaking outside Bilawal House. He added that the messages and letters which were being distributed by extortionists have also stopped.
Malik chided the media for misreporting facts and said that many target killings were actually personal enmities cases – a claim he has made before.
According to the interior minister, the criminals were using advanced technology, and as a result the president had ordered the police to update their weaponry and gear. The funds for this will be released in four weeks.
“I have ordered four helicopters equipped with surveillance machinery,” he said. “I have recommended that there should be some sort of aviation unit for the police to do aerial monitoring of sensitive areas and areas that cars cannot go.” He dropped hints about some new gadgets that they had ordered for the police, such as a small camera that could even focus on an ant crossing the road. Malik claimed that Rangers had rounded up 35 suspects, while the police had arrested over 70 suspects in ‘targeted action’, not operations.
“We are taking action indiscriminately and it is not against a party or ethnicity,” he said. “This is all taking place on the president’s orders. If someone from a party gets arrested, they will claim that they are being targeted but if someone is arrested from a political party and are found to be innocent after interrogations they will be released. Everyone will go home or go to court.”
Malik welcomed what he called the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s chief Altaf Hussain’s initiative in being the first to order the removal of all party flags. He said that the Awami National Party had committed to do the same and advised all other parties, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and Sunni Tehreek, to follow suit.
He ordered the SHO’s to remove flags from government buildings or public infrastructure. However, an exception will be made for the Pakistan Peoples Party flags which were put up to mourn for Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but will be removed by April 5.
“Even if things become peaceful in the city this doesn’t mean that the police just sit back and wait,” he said. “They have to continue working against criminals even when it is peaceful.”
Later in the day, Malik held a meeting with ANP leader Shahi Syed to discuss the law and order situation. Malik told the media that the ANP leader had assured him that his party would cooperate with the government to make the city peaceful.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2012.