HYDERABAD: The federal cabinet’s ministerial committee set with the daunting task of restoring peace in Sindh, especially Karachi, appears to be off to a shaky start.
All the Sindhi nationalist parties, except the Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party (STPP), either refused to meet the committee or were not approached. Even the interaction with the STPP leaders insinuated a disappointment.
The committee was formed after an attack on a ‘Love Sindh’ rally in Karachi against the Mohajir province on May 22. “We are meeting all stakeholders to get their views, analysis and advice,” said Federal Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim at a press conference at the STPP House on Sunday evening. Fahim is heading the committee that includes Syed Khursheed Shah, Syed Naveed Qamar and Mola Bux Chandio.
However, the host, STPP Chairman Dr Qadir Magsi, reminded the visiting ministers that the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) lack of decisive action over the law and order situation in Karachi suggested that the government means no harm to the perpetrators. “The PPP has governments in the centre and three provinces, but its inaction [against criminals in Karachi] strengthens the perception that it is involved,” he said.
Magsi accused the Muttahida Qaumi Movement of supporting the Mohajir Suba Tehreek. He asked the ministers why the government had failed to remove the movement’s graffiti, banners, posters and maps despite Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah’s orders. But his point-blank criticism and questions elicited no response. The ministers kept reiterating that they wanted to make Sindh the land of peace. “I categorically say that there can be no question of a division of Sindh,” said Fahim, who eked out short repetitive answers but went only thus far.
According to Magsi, the STPP has not been asked to provide recommendations, which the committee claims to be gathering for its final report. The ministers who were seated beside him at the press conference did not refute him.
The committee does not even seem to be formed officially, as no notification has been issued.
When asked, Naveed Qamar told The Express Tribune that the decision to form the committee was mentioned in the “minutes” of a cabinet meeting.
Controversy also surrounds the ministers’ attempt to contact other political parties.
The Awami Tehreek says it refused to meet them. It wants them to address the people’s grievances and apprehensions first and to expose the perpetrators of violence in Karachi. Niaz Kalani of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) told The Express Tribune that his party was not contacted. Leaders of other JSQM factions also said the same thing.
Although some reports suggested attempts were made to contact the Sindh United Party, its president, Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah, denied them.
Magsi, the only nationalist leader interacting with the committee, views it as a “damage control” strategy of the PPP in Sindh. “I told them that the issues are ‘too much’ for the committee to resolve,” he said, while talking to The Express Tribune after the meeting. The STPP chairman does not take this effort by the government to restore peace in Karachi as genuine.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2012.