KARACHI: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) strongly criticised coalition partners in the Sindh government for resorting to and being involved in target killing.
For the first time in history, activists of the ruling parties are being targeted and killed, said former senator Iqbal Haider, co-chairperson of the HRCP, addressing a press conference on Friday. He said that target-killing incidents, that started last year, got worse in 2010 and the lawenforcement agencies have failed to stop them. “They [the coalition partners] have failed to barricade this menace,” said Haider. “Our city is bleeding and no one cares,” he said, adding, “Even the policemen are getting killed.”
He described the target killings in the city as a “tug of war” between the political parties for control over the financial capital of Pakistan. According to the HRCP, 560 people have been killed in Karachi during the first four months of the current year. The data issued by the human rights watchdog states that 167 people were killed in January, 133 in February, while 130 were killed in March and April each.
The data that was compiled and tabulated using the HRCP’s own sources and media reports, indicates that 10 people fell victim to sectarian violence in the city as well. According to the data, the Mohajir Qaumi Movement- Haqiqi (MQM-H) has lost 29 workers since the beginning of the year, while 13 activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) were killed during the same period. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the major ruling party in Sindh, lost two workers in target-killing incidents.
Four workers of the Awami National Party (ANP) also lost their lives, revealed the HRCP figures. Haider also criticised the administration of Hyderabad city, that failed to punish the police constables who raped a blind woman. HRCP officials also condemned the punishments executed by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the Orakzai Agency. “The TTP have cut off the hands of three people who were allegedly involved in theft. Why are the government and political parties silent on this issue?” he said.
Special powers taken back from Rangers
Pakistan Rangers will no longer enjoy the ‘special powers’ to control target killings as the Sindh Home Department took back its decision on Friday. Rangers were given these powers for a month on February 3, following a wave of target killings in Karachi, under section V of the Anti Terrorism Act 1997.
The powers were later extended until now. According to the police, more than 35 people, belonging to different political parties, have lost their lives during this time. Representatives of political parties had claimed that giving the Rangers ‘special powers’ made no difference. Ninety Pakistan Peoples Party workers have lost their lives over the last two years, mostly from Baldia and Orangi towns, said the party’s spokesperson, Latif Mughal.
The Mojahir Qaumi Movement - Haqiqi’s Akhtar Hussain said that many of their workers, including advocate Sohail Anjum, finance secretary Riaz Qureshi and their information secretary, were killed when the Rangers were in control. “It does not matter if it is the Rangers or the police because 24 of our workers were killed in the last three months,” Hussain told The Express Tribune. Meanwhile, information secretary for Jamaat-e-Islami, Sarfaraz Ahmad, said that the government agencies do not want peace in the city and they have deliberately given a free hand to killers to let the law and order situation get worse.
According to Ahmad, more than seven Jamaat-e-Islami workers were gunned down since the Rangers took over. “Three of our workers were shot dead in Surjani Town,” he said, “The police and paramilitary forces know who was behind it but they are unwilling to take action against them.” The Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Raza Haroon was, however, willing to cut the Rangers some slack, saying that their job was to assist the Sindh government for some time and they cannot be expected to stay permanently.
“It is the role of the government to be efficient in controlling crime,” said Haroon, adding that targeted killings are increasing with every passing day - 145 workers of his party have been killed since January 2009. The public relations officer for Pakistan Rangers, Major Aurangzeb, told The Express Tribune that they have arrested several suspects and have seized arms and ammunition during this time. He promised that the data will be shared with the media once it is compiled. According to the notice issued by the home department, the ban on display of arms in the city under section 144 is still intact.
Three target killing suspects caught
The south zone police arrested three men allegedly involved in the target killings of political activists, traders and shopkeepers, said DIG south zone police Ghulam Nabi Memon at a press conference at his office on Friday, PPI reports. The Brigade police, led by SSP Amir Farooq, raided Lines Area on Friday morning. The suspects were identified as Adnan alias Chewra, Junaid alias Juni and Faisal alias Rana. The police also seized three TT pistols from their possession, the DIG said. However, their gang leader, Arshad ‘K2’, managed to escape during the raid.
During the initial course of investigations, the accused allegedly confessed that they killed different political workers who seemed to be a threat, and they also targeted those shopkeepers who did not give them extortion money, the DIG claimed. He said that the suspects had confessed that Arshad K2 had killed their friend and had thrown his body in a gunny bag in the Sohrab Goth area. They targeted Shahid, a meat seller, in 2008 and in 2009, they targeted and killed a paint seller for refusing them extortion money.
In 2006, they attacked Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Azhar Ayub, and they also confessed to several incidents of street crimes, including mobile phone snatchings. Memon said that the suspects were imprisoned several times before and after their release on bail, they did not appear before court and were declared proclaimed offenders. The police are investigating their affiliation with any political party and are collecting details about the suspects from the Special Branch, he added.
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