KARACHI: The Pukhtoon-backed Awami National Party in Sindh has held Governor Ishratul Ebad responsible for the target killings in Karachi that left over 22 men dead in 24 hours.
“He is their godfather,” said the party’s Sindh president Shahi Syed at a press conference at Mardan House on Thursday. This press conference was called after the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and ANP members exchanged harsh words at Chief Minister House. The meeting was meant to be attended by key members of the coalition - the PPP, MQM and ANP.
But the MQM leaders demanded that the representatives of the Hazara movement be included as they were party to the target killings. When this demand was not agreed upon, the MQM boycotted the meeting. In a bid to prove that the Hazarewal were not behind the target killings and were instead with the Pakhtun, Shahi Syed invited the Tehreek Sooba Hazara and Anjuman-e-Ittehad Hazara to his press conference afterwards. “The people of Hazara are our brothers and we accept their constitutional right to demand a separate province,” said Shahi Syed. “The Pukhtoon and Hazarawals have been living together for thousands of years and have never been involved in killings.”
He commented on a remark made by the MQM’s Farooq Sattar to the effect that the ANP and Hazarawals should “accept” each other and live peacefully. “The overseas minister does not know that actually the people living in Hazara are also Pukhtoon tribes,” retorted Shahi Syed. “Our culture and traditions are the same. We just speak two different languages.” The Anjuman-Ittehad Hazara’s Irshad Hussain Bukhari backed Shahi Syed’s statements. “The people of Hazara are peaceful citizens and have nothing to do with the target killings,” said Bukhari. “People are playing politics as they did in Abbotabad and now others are playing the same game in Karachi.” Nazir Khan of the Tehreek Sooba Hazara added that the people of Hazara had nothing to do with the crisis.
Shahi Syed was criticial of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party. It seems as if the MQM is actually ruling Karachi, he said. “The PPP is bowing its head to each and every demand put forward by the MQM, which is an insult to the mandate given by the people of Sindh to Bhutto’s party,” he added. According to the ANP Sindh president, one political party thought of itself as the ruler of the city and was not ready to give political space to other parties.
Sindh belongs to Sindhis and all other nationalities are guests, he said. “Those who want to turn Karachi into their personal property are living in a fool’s paradise.” Shahi Syed brought up the case of an ANP sympathiser Abdul Nabi Khan who was attacked because he had refused to pay extortion money to MQM workers for a Punjab convemtion. “They were demanding Rs300,000 from him,” he said, adding that they had even informed the MQM Rabita Committee but the man was killed later on.
Hazara Quami Mahaz protests for separate province
Activists of the Hazara Qaumi Mahaz, Sindh, organised a protest rally outside the press club on Thursday to demand a separate province. Addressing a press conference after the rally on Hazara Qaumi Mahaz president Haji Khurshid Hazarvi said that they have no conflicts with the Pakhtuns and they are fighting for a separate province peacefully. He condemned Wednesday’s target killings and offered his condolences to the affected families. Hazarvi also announced the party’s neutrality in the target-killing incidents. “We also condemn the conspirators who are trying to create a gulf between the Pakhtun and Hazara communities.
MQM boycotts coordination committee meeting with PPP and ANP
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) boycotted a coordination committee meeting after its demand to include Hazara groups was turned down by other coalition partners. It said it wanted the Hazara groups included as the target killings concerned them. The meeting was scheduled to take place at Chief Minister House to discuss targeted killings in Karachi and acquire input from the major political parties, namely the MQM, Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
Raza Haroon and Hammad Siddiqi were representing the MQM, the ANP representatives were Amin Khattak and Rana Gul Afridi while Waqar Mehdi and Rashid Rabbani represented the PPP. Before the parties could begin the meeting, the MQM demanded representation of the Hazarewal. This was opposed by the PPP and ANP who argued that it would be unrealistic to call the Hazara Jirga to the meeting as it would only instigate demands of representation from all other parties. “The incidents taking place for the past two days are tragic and we condemn them,” said the MQM’s Rabita Committee member Waseem Abbas.
“We demanded representation of the Hazara movement and Hazara Jirga because there should be equal representation for every group in order to come to a conclusion.” He added that the Hazara people had also lost several lives on April 12, when they were attacked during a protest in Abbotabad. He went on to allege that the ANP had filed FIRs on May 9 and attacked the offices of the Hazara Jirga on Tariq Road. Aftab denied allegations that the Sindh governor was involved in targeted killings, saying that everyone knew that it could not be true and that the ANP should double check its facts before making such statements.
The PPP’s Waqar Mehdi told The Express Tribune that there was no solid reason for the MQM to boycott the meeting, considering that they had requested it in the first place. “The meeting was arranged after Waseem Aftab called Rashid Rabbani to arrange a coordination committee meeting,” Mehdi said, adding that this forum was only for the MQM, PPP and ANP and if the MQM had wanted to call the Hazara Jirga it should have informed them before the meeting. “It would become an assembly instead of a committee if someone else asked us tomorrow to add more parties,” Mehdi argued.
He added that the chief minister had instructed members of the committee to air out their differences soon and that no one should back out when it came to resolving serious issues such as target killings.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 21t, 2010.