In compliance with Supreme Court orders, the Sindh government has allocated Rs10 million for eyewitness funds and decided to make a law to protect them.
The Sindh Cabinet meeting, which was chaired by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah at the Chief Minister’s House on Friday, also decided to create a computerised arms licence process after the month of Muharram.
The meeting decided to give enough time to people to computerise their licences through the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), failing which the licences will be cancelled.
After the meeting, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, along with Sindh Revenue Minister Jam Mahtab Dahar briefed the media, and said that the cabinet members were informed about the criminal elements, the motives behind their activities and their affiliation with different groups.
Memon said that a list of the criminals was also presented in the meeting.
He added that since eyewitnesses were being targeted, the government has decided to make a law for their protection and has released Rs10 million as funds for the victims.
“This is an initial fund. It can be extended and a modus operandi of which is to be defined [will be done] with the consultation of legal experts,” he said, adding that a bill in this regard would be tabled in the Sindh Assembly soon.
The meeting discussed the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi, in which police officials informed it about the looming threats in the month of Muharram.
Though the Additional Chief Secretary for Home Department, Waseem Ahmed, praised the police and law enforcement agencies’ performance in his progress report, a few members at the meeting expressed their concern over their poor performance.
Memon, who has also been appointed as the Central Deputy Secretary Information of the PPP, called the recent spate of targeted killings a well planned conspiracy against the incumbent government and stated that the cabinet stressed on the need to adopt strict security measures during the month of Muharram.
It also directed law enforcement agencies to put extraordinary efforts on the 9th and 10th days of Muharram to avert any untoward incident.
“We will not let anyone burn this city and criminals will be dealt with the iron hands of state,” he remarked. He said that suspects belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan were also involved in terrorist activities in Karachi.
During the meeting, some members floated the idea of suspending cellular services on the 9th and 10th days of Muharram, given the security threats, but a majority of the members opposed the proposal and said it would create trouble.
MQM members also expressed their concern on extortion and the recent wave of violence in the city.
Sources said that those ministers who always defend the government in public meetings also criticised the police and law enforcement agencies on their failure to control the law and order situation.
Senior Minister Pir Mazharul Haq disputed the reports of Secretary Ahmed that ‘all is well’ [in the city].
He said, “People are being kidnapped in my area and you are saying everything is okay.”
Meanwhile, Minister for Local Government, Agha Siraj Durrani, said that his cousin was also kidnapped and it had become difficult for people in his constituency to venture out of their home after sunset.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2012.