Karachi operation rhetoric triggers fresh tensions

Published: November 20, 2012

MQM leader Altaf Hussain states that “certain state powers” are baying for an operation, and his party is being made a “sacrificial lamb”. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD / KARACHI: 

The clock has been turned back two decades in the country’s financial capital – and it revolves around that one contentious word: ‘Operation.’

With the city under fresh tension — this time sectarian — following a bomb attack near an imbargah, Monday saw the rhetoric of an operation slowly build up towards a political storm, and threatening to go even further than that.

Tension on the matter had been building up for a few days, but was truly set off by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Khursheed Shah’s statement that a sweeping security operation in Karachi is on the cards to bring normalcy to the city.

The notion was also echoed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s chief. Nawaz Sharif expressed support for an operation in the city, saying that peace would remain elusive if “military wings of the ruling PPP and its coalition partners” continued to operate in Karachi.

“The Supreme Court had ordered in its verdict in Karachi law and order case that the military wings of the political parties be eliminated from Karachi,” he pointed out, while addressing the media on Monday.

On his part, Khursheed Shah claimed that all stakeholders have been taken on board in terms of the operation, adding that all political parties, including the MQM and the ANP, supported such a move in Karachi. He was talking to media persons outside Parliament House after briefing a parliamentary committee.

The government, however, is yet to decide a “method of action” in order to avoid “collateral damage,” he added.

Before him, the Senate passed a motion that recommended the de-weaponisation of Karachi, and Senators lashed out at the “militant wings of political parties” in the city.

MQM takes exception

Later in the day, Karachi’s ruling party seemed to take exception to the buildup. First, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain raised the spectre of an operation similar to that in Karachi in 1992.

The reference is alarming given that the 1992 operation and its aftermath ushered in the darkest days of Karachi in terms of politico-ethnic violence.

In a speech on Monday, Hussain raised concern that “certain state powers” were baying for an operation, and his party is being made a “sacrificial lamb”.

In a speech to members of the party in Lahore and Rawalpindi, Hussain said that baseless allegations were being leveled against the MQM as part of a plan to “crush the party.”

Hussain said that those conspiring should realise that, unlike in 1992, the MQM now has a presence throughout the country and its supporters would protest at any action against it.

Rabita Committee

Hussain’s speech was followed by strongly-worded statement by members of the MQM Rabita (Coordination) Committee, who turned on “a federal minister” for his statement on the violence in Karachi.

It is unclear whether the reference was to Khursheed Shah or Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Earlier on Monday, Malik said that the attack on an imambargah on Sunday was the work of a ‘third power’ and was not a sectarian attack.

The committee noted that Karachi’s residents were well aware which banned organisations were involved in sectarian killings, but instead of blaming them, “the minister” was threatening Karachiites with an operation.

They noted that the passage of a resolution in the Senate, calling for Karachi to be “cleansed of weapons” was meaningful for Pakistanis. In the statement, they asked whether they were only weapons in Karachi and not the rest of Pakistan. The party leaders also questioned whether the Pakistan Peoples Party’s members were “reigniting their policy against Karachi”.

The senate resolution

Earlier in the day, a majority of senators agreed that the law and order situation in the financial hub of the country could not reach normalcy without abolishing militant wings of political parties.

The motion, moved by Awami National Party (ANP) Senator Shahi Syed, sought effective measures from the government to deweaponise Karachi in view of the prevailing law and order situation.

During the session, in surprising move, ANP Senator Azam Khan Hoti – the K-P chief minister’s father – expressed his sympathies with the MQM, recalling that previous military operations launched in Karachi either by the Pakistan Peoples Party or the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in the 1990s had proved to be a thrashing of the MQM rather than militants.

He went on to proceeded towards MQM Senator Babar Khan Ghauri and shook his hand, saying it was the only way to remain united against the common enemy – militancy and terrorism.

“The best way to resolve the issue is to sit together and show sincerity and honesty to correct the situation,” he said.

ANP turns to SC

ANP’s Haji Muhammad Adeel approached the apex court on the worsening law and order situation in Karachi, saying that the court’s orders in the suo motu case on Karachi violence were violated by the authorities concerned. He filed a contempt of court petition against the Sindh chief secretary, home secretary and inspector general of the Sindh Police for this defiance.

Correction: An earlier version of the article had incorrectly stated ANP Senator Azam Khan Hoti as K-P CM’s son. The error is regretted.

WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AZAM KHAN AND PEER MUHAMMAD IN ISLAMABAD AND SABA IMTIAZ IN KARACHI

Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2012.

Reader Comments (13)

  • Khan Bhai
    Nov 20, 2012 - 4:24AM

    Altaf Hussain showing is long-distance leadership, once again!

    Recommend

  • Mubashir
    Nov 20, 2012 - 4:46AM

    It is such a pity that our Political Parties haven’t matured after so many Martial Laws. Armed wings is a part of almost all Parties! What ever Tension it may cause.. The Rhetoric is sure to bring the Killing Spree in Karachi down… Surprising isn’t it?
    So keep up the Rhetoric.

    Recommend

  • Imran
    Nov 20, 2012 - 5:23AM

    @Khan Bhai:
    Better than Taliban Khan you think ?

    Recommend

  • kanwal
    Nov 20, 2012 - 5:51AM

    Well, PPP cant see a prosperous karachi that they cant explain to the rest of the Sind. And we know whose side Nawaz is going to take. Its the religious fanatics doing these blasts and taking extortions as the intelligence agencies have said two days ago. Yet no word against the banned outfits and all they wanna do is operation against MQM?Is there an end to Zardari’s desires?

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  • Jahangir Mari
    Nov 20, 2012 - 5:54AM

    General Kiyani and his lead operational commanders should have only one objective in view when they go in Sindh, or in the rest of Pakistan: The saving of Pakistani Economy. They have the Musharraf Model to analyse for this purpose. A peaceful Karachi was central to the economic stability of Pakistan during the Musharraf era. Any repeat of the excesses of 90s would plunge the Pakistani Economy/Karachi further into dark ages. Those who wish “Crippling of Karachi = Crippling of Pakistani Economy = Crippling of Pakistani Armed Forces” would be greatly satisfied. Time is up for the Chief in Rawalpindi to put forth a smart and able second officer as “national chief executive” The Supreme Judges ought to support this national lifesaving move for 3-4 years, so that the next general elections could be held in 2016. Nothing is more superior than the viability of Pakistan!

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  • Hairaan
    Nov 20, 2012 - 7:08AM

    Why worry MQM. You don’t have any illegal weapons.

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  • Nov 20, 2012 - 8:06AM

    Senator Azam Khan Hoti is K-P chief minister’s father, not his son.

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  • Faisal
    Nov 20, 2012 - 9:24AM

    Vow! What a statement by a leader living in the comforts of UK, for over 20 years now, even though his party has been in power for more than a decade now!!! This coupled with a interior minister whose every action and a word is a joke, we surely cannot have peace in the city under th present setup.

    A through operation is indeed needed here as the criminal elements, part of the ruling political elite, are running rampant and always looking at new ways to rob, kidnap and kill the innocents in the city.

    In an era where the police high ups admit that there organization is full of corrupt and politically appointed staff only a military operation can bring clam to this city. If this is not dome than an exodus of people to Punjab will begin from next year.

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  • Nov 20, 2012 - 9:46AM

    The only time these archaic and illiterate political parties use their heads is when they want to loot the national exchequer. Otherwise, Pakistan remains a befuddled and rudderless nation. Its political and socio-economic policies are at best NIL.
    When the problem, known to all, lies in the different lashkars, tanzeems, and tehreeks, the government having actionable intelligence is not acting against them for the simple reason that these militant, sectarian, and insurgent groups are too widespread in the country and armed to the teeth. The porous borders are and excellent escape route to launch hit-and-run attacks to the east and west. The military and para-military can start and continue action but for how long. After all they too are humans and get tired, stalemated, and see reason against the purpose of fighting their own kind.
    An operation in Karachi by these feudal politicians is an excuse and an invitation for more trouble in the country. The feudal administration is perdition of the daily affairs of state. Salams

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  • Pakistani
    Nov 20, 2012 - 10:24AM

    “ANP Senator Azam Khan Hoti – the K-P chief minister’s son – expressed his sympathies with the MQM” Who is the father and who is the son?

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  • Ban17
    Nov 20, 2012 - 10:26AM

    K-p chief minister father not the son.. Azam hoti is haider hoti’s fatherRecommend

  • Sultan Khan
    Nov 20, 2012 - 10:27AM

    There is no doubt that peace should be the priority of the government not only for Karachi but whole of the country but unable to understand as to why discriminatory attitude is always adopted for Karachi. The so-called nationalists are raising a hue and cry over the local bodies system but where were they when only Sindh was divided into urban and rural. Now the talk of deweaponising only Karachi is being done. Why not the whole of the country? Are the soldiers, policemen and civilians in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, Hazaras in Baluchistan and Shias in Gilgit, Chitral etc. being killed with potatoes and onions? The government should adopt a strategy that no community should feel that other communities have been given an edge over it. Nawaz should also avoid putting oil on the fire and his campaign of creating unrest in the province.

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  • Kamran Naqvi
    Nov 22, 2012 - 10:27PM

    When ruling coalition partners have their armed militant gangs & corruption is ruling the roost in Karachi, only Naseerullah Babar like operation can bring back peace & prosperity.

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