It was not a case of tongue in cheek when Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah said that his government had contained targeted killings in Karachi; but he left everybody bewildered when he claimed that no police operation was carried out in Lyari.
“The government did not carry out any operation in Lyari nor does it intend to do so in the future,” he said while presenting a catalogue on the four-year performance of his government before the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday.
“It was a targeted raid conducted by the police against gangs, and it will also continue in other areas. Our target is not a specific group or party but criminal elements,” he said while referring to a week-long 1,400-man police operation in Lyari that was abruptly called off without producing any tangible results.
Shah said that it was difficult for 20,000 policemen to control law and order in a city of 20 million people. “We live in an era of rocket launchers and hand grenades,” he said, adding, “I accept that the criminals and terrorists are far better trained and possess the latest weapons, while our police have only Kalashnikovs.”
The chief minister said that the law and order situation in other provinces — Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa — was worse than that of Sindh, but some elements were portraying a bleak picture of Sindh.
He said some hidden hands were hatching a conspiracy by misguiding the people of Lyari in order to turn them against the Pakistan Peoples Party government. “This house will not tolerate it and we will foil all such conspiracies. Lyari has been and will continue to be the stronghold of the PPP,” he remarked.
Boasting about the measures taken for the improvement in Lyari, the chief minister said that the government has spent around 2.3 billion rupees on different schemes for drinking water, roads, education and sports.
He referred to police operations carried out in other parts of Sindh to weed out dacoits. “Sukkur, Ghotki, Shikarpur, Kamber-Shahdadkot, Kashmore and Dadu have been cleared,” he said. “During the operation, 328 dacoits carrying reward money of Rs108.6 million have either been killed or arrested.”
“There have been ups and downs in Karachi, but despite problems, the government has succeeded in maintaining law and order situation through political will and with the support of coalition partners,” he added.
Giving a breakdown of the criminals arrested, he said that during 2010-2011 three suspects involved in targeted killings were gunned down and 303 were arrested. Claiming that the menace of extortion has also been controlled, he said that during 2010-2011, around 265 cases of bhatta collection were registered and 2003 accused were arrested.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.