Interior Minister Rehman Malik has pinned the blame for Karachi’s Abbas Town attack on the Punjab government for what he called its “inaction” against banned organisations, particularly Lashkhar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).
Addressing a National Assembly session, Malik also vowed to answer each question related to the blast in the Karachi locality, which left around 50 people dead. “Let’s have a question-answer session. I will present a fact sheet on Wednesday (today) on the incident and ask you to be my judge,” Malik said. The house had suspended the agenda of the day to exclusively discuss the issue on the request of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
Initially, the minister pointed a finger at the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for not taking action against the LeJ but later announced, “We should talk about collective responsibility instead of indulging in blame games.”
He informed the house that four suspects, including three from the LeJ, had been arrested and their statements would reveal everything regarding the incident. “We are going to seal offices of the LeJ and all other banned organisations,” he said, requesting the Punjab government to cooperate in this regard. “Let’s join hands. Let’s sit together and let’s go above politics,” he added.
The minister said that the attacks in Quetta and Karachi were planned, adding that some forces had joined the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to destabilise the country and democracy. During the first day of debate, members from almost every political party highlighted the point that banned organisations were operating freely in the country. The PML-N, on the other hand, focused on the poor performance of the government.
Maulvi Asmatullah from Balochistan pointed out an unusual cause for the worsening law and order situation in the country: he termed all other speeches [of MNAs] against the teachings of Islam and said, “This is God’s wrath and the result of running the country with secularism.”
“Enforce the Islamic system in the country and all issues will die down,” he added.
Earlier, Waseem Akhter of the MQM recalled his party chief Altaf Hussain’s warning of Talibanisation in Karachi and said “free movement of banned organisation in provinces gives the message that they were being sponsored by the state.”
Akhter censured Sindh chief minister’s announcement of Rs1.5 million in compensation for victims’ families. “Is this the solution to the problem?”
During his speech, some PPP women MNAs, sitting at the back, were calling out, “Who is enjoying life in London?”
Khawaja Asif of the PML-N said that the government had spent five years in apathy and should at least repent over what is happening in its last 10 days of rule. “Law enforcers of Karachi have become part of the problem,” he added.
Noor Alam Khan of the PPP said that some Punjab government ministers had links with banned organisation leaders, implying that it was equally responsible for the violence sweeping the country.
“Leave the blame game and give some suggestions,” said Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi responding to Khan.
Himayatullah Miyar of the ANP said that law enforcement agencies know everything about terrorist organisations.
“Ask generals to come to this house and we will question them,” he added.
MNAs Sardar Bahadur Sehar and Sheikh Waqas Akram also questioned the Punjab government about its inaction against terrorists in the province.
“This is a collective failure and Interior Minister Rehman Malik alone is not responsible,” said Akram.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2013.