Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s list of supporters is dwindling further as a fellow cabinet member dissociated the government from the minister’s decision to ban riding motorcycles and cellular services in Karachi on first Muharram.
Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Khursheed Ahmed Shah clarified on Sunday that Malik had taken those decisions in his personal capacity and that the government had nothing to do with them.
It would have been better if a public holiday had been declared, instead of causing inconvenience to the public, added the minister. He was speaking to the media at a school in Sukkur.
While the Sindh High Court suspended the ban on motorcycle riding soon after Malik issued the directives, residents of Karachi had to do without cellular service for nearly 12 hours on Friday. Malik later challenged the SHC’s decision in the apex court. Shah said that that the decision to challenge the ban was also Malik’s own.
When asked about the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi, the Pakistan Peoples Party leader expressed hope that a “drastic” operation will be launched against criminals in the city, but only if the PPP, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Awami National Party were all on board.
The minister appreciated the decision of the National Judicial Policymaking Committee to allow judicial officers to work as returning officers during the general elections, and observed that the judiciary also wanted democracy to flourish in the country.
“A caretaker set-up will be announced soon, and the elections will take place according to schedule.” The police and Rangers will be deployed for maintaining law and order during the elections, while the army will also be patrolling various areas, added Shah.
The minister parried away questions regarding allegations made by Admiral (Retd) Fasih Bokhari, sitting chairman of the country’s premier anti-graft organisation. In a press conference on Saturday, Bokhari had claimed that some people were “pressurising” him to resign from the top position in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Shah said that the NAB chairperson should reveal the identity of the culprits, as well as, those politicians whom he accuses of being corrupt.
The religious affairs minister also claimed that the government’s agriculture policy has resulted in Pakistan not needing to import wheat anymore. The government used to spend more than Rs50 billion every year for purchasing wheat growers from Australia and Canada, but not anymore.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2012.