KARACHI: ‘Surrender before the courts or the media… but surrender you must’ was the call from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPAs on Monday to the criminal groups operating in Lyari.
MPAs Rafique Engineer and Saleem Hingoro spoke at a press conference at the party’s media cell on the ongoing operation in Lyari along with representatives of the PPP from District South. The crux of the briefing appeared to be a defence of the PPP and the police operation, as the party is faced with increasing anger from constituents in its traditional stronghold.
But the MPAs had little answers to offer. Questions on why they had not visited their own constituencies were replied with mutterings of how the security situation didn’t permit it, and that police officers were dying there. Several reports were rubbished. The protests being held by Lyari’s residents throughout the city were not genuine, as they were being coerced to do so, Engineer said, while the PPP flags burnt in Lyari was the “work of party opponents”. “Lyari is a fortress of the PPP,” he said. There was no danger, according to the MPA, of the PPP losing the constituencies it wins from. “A lot of people have seen this dream of conquering Lyari. In the elections, you will see how the PPP wins.”
Engineer said ex-Peoples Amn Committee (PAC) leader Zafar Baloch was not a party loyalist and had worked as an independent polling agent during the 2008 general elections and so the operation was not an episode of ‘political victimisation’. He called on Zafar Baloch and other men accused in criminal cases to come forward and clear their names in the court if they were innocent.
Engineer and Hingoro said they were in solidarity with the people of Lyari who had been under siege because of the armed groups operating there and were setting up ‘solidarity camps’ that would offer rations. “Lyari’s mothers and daughters are our mothers and daughters,” Engineer said. Hingoro also claimed that the IG had said that cases of kidnappings for ransom had gone down by 30% since the operation had started because the criminals were confined to one area.
According to Engineer, the targeted operation in Lyari is “not against one ethnic or religious group” but will be carried out across the board. “This is not against the Baloch or Sindhis,” he stressed.
“The offices of political parties were raided before and there will be operations in Nazimabad, Azizabad and Liaquatabad if there are criminals there,” said Engineer.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2012.