A fresh wave of target killings in Karachi has increased the death toll in the last 24 hours to seven.
On Monday, two men became victims of sectarian killings in the city. Various groups took to the streets in Nazimabad, Paposh, Essa Nagri and Rizvia to protest the killings.
President Asif Ali Zardari has talked to MQM chief Altaf Hussain over the phone and both have condemned the incidents. The two leaders vowed to fully cooperate to bring the culprits to task.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik also spoke to the MQM chief and met with Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to discuss how to address the violence.
Sectarian violence flared after agencies were fettered
Coalition partners of the Sindh government had held successful meetings late last month to sort out the issue of political target killings in the city, following which the phenomenon came to a screeching halt. The respite, however, was short-lived.
Following this breakthrough, Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza issued a letter to the heads of intelligence agencies on June 3 making it obligatory that any detention by them be first referred to the local police station, so that all misconceptions are avoided.
Interestingly, two days after the fetters were placed, sectarian violence erupted in the city.
In the letter, addressed to ISI commander, FIA director and other top intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, Mirza instructed them to stop arresting people without taking local police into confidence.
The letter issued the directives: “[…] It is decided that henceforth any arrest required to be made in furtherance of a legal process by any agency must be done only and only after information of such an arrest has first been communicated to the police station concerned where such an arrest is supposed to be made. Snap checking on the pretext of search must also be communicated to the relevant police station. If this practice is not followed, the arrest of the individual or group of individuals shall be subject to judicial scrutiny and the government shall take an adverse view of it. I would like to place on record that these instructions be fully complied with in the future.”
From the text of the letter, it is evident that the intelligence agencies had made arrests that were not welcomed by the ruling parties.
In a situation where the powers of the intelligence agencies have been limited, the police are finding it difficult to control the law and order situation, despite claims by CCPO Karachi Waseem Ahmed and Zulfikar Mirza of the inroads being made by operations.
Two more killed
After a relatively peaceful day, sectarian target killings resumed on Monday when unidentified men gunned down another member of the Shia sect in North Nazimabad.
Syed Muhammad Ayub Naqvi, 65, was travelling in his car when two armed men on a motorcycle intercepted him near the underpass and shot him dead.
According to members of the Jafaria Alliance Pakistan, Naqvi used to write religious books and sell them in front of the Noor Imambargah. He was an Essa Nagri resident and lived in Nikasa apartments.
The body of the deceased was taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where the medico-legal officer (MLO), Dr Shiraz, said the medical examination showed that he was killed from a distance of less than five metres. He was shot twice – on the right side of his ear and at the back of his ear.
Soon after he was killed, members of the Shia sect took to the streets in Nazimabad, Paposh, Rizvia and Essa Nagri and fired in the air. Angry protestors pelted vehicles with stones in front of the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital after Naqvi’s body was handed over to his relatives. They shouted anti-government slogans and demanded for the culprits to be arrested. A bus was also set ablaze in Nazimabad during Naqvi’s funeral procession.
However, Nazimabad police station SHO Muhammad Jehanzaib said the situation was brought under control as soon as the police found out about the turmoil. “Police and Rangers reached the spot in time and controlled the situation,” said Jehanzaib. According to him, the police have been given powers to take stern action against those involved in creating the law and order situations in the city. Six armoured personnel carriers and 14 police and Rangers mobiles were patrolling Gulberg Town.
According to the Jafaria Alliance Pakistan, Naqvi is the tenth Shia to be killed during the last two weeks, a period in which a total of 16 lives have been lost.
Meanwhile, a member of the Ahle Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat was gunned down near the Meteorological department on University Road in the limits of Mobina Town police station.
Ibrahim Mana, 32, son of Hajji Wali, was the resident of the Okahi Building situated in the same area. Police officials said that Mana was sitting at a paan shop when some identified gunmen arrived on bike and shot him dead. He was hit by two bullets, one on his head and the other on his neck. He was father to one child and used to operate a flour shop. Police shifted his body to the nearest private hospital and later on took him to JPMC for medico-legal formalities. Following the incident, the situation in the area was reported to be tense with an angry mob taking to the streets. Aerial firing was reported in the area, while some people also burned tyres and blocked the roads. Police and Rangers rushed to the spot to control the situation.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 15th, 2010.