KARACHI: Expressing concern at the fresh wave of sectarian violence in the city, a high-level meeting between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari, has decided to crack down on banned religious outfits operating in the metropolis.
The meeting, held at Bilawal House on Monday, decided to form a committee to uncover the facts of target killings in Karachi, and the findings would be implemented swiftly and indiscriminately. During the meeting, the president also spoke to MQM leader Altaf Hussain in London by the phone.
After the meeting, Interior Minister Rehman Malik claimed that the earlier waves of ethnic target killings were perpetrated by the same ethnic and banned religious outfits, who, after failing on that platform, are now attempting to disturb sectarian harmony.
He said the coalition will move to act against banned outfits operating in the city, even those that are operating under new names, and warned them not to hold rallies in the city.
While talking to journalists following the meeting, members of both parties said that the PPP and the MQM will jointly work to unveil the faces active behind ethnic violence in Karachi. Rehman Malik said that the coalition government would form a committee under the supervision of an Additional-IG ranked police officer to find out the facts of the target killing spree in Karachi. He claimed that many criminal elements involved in spoiling the peace of Karachi have been identified and will be dealt with an iron hand.
Malik said the government was now in close contact with the clerics of both Shia and Sunni sects and would not allow anyone to create panic in the city. He also said that the government has directed all SHOs to gather data of all religious clerics in their towns and try to build an open line of communication with them. At times of crisis, the SHOs will contact these clerics to urge them to spread the message of peace to stop the violence from intensifying. To a question the minister said that friendship between PPP and MQM would continue. He said that core committees and coordination committees are working for the solution of problems, while to ensure the implementation of the decisions taken by these committees, an implementation committee under the supervision of the Chief Secretary Sindh has also been formed.
Deputy Convener of MQM’s Rabita Committee and federal minister Dr Farooq Sattar said that his party has no differences with the PPP and that the coalition would continue. He said that the MQM had conveyed its reservations on the provincial and federal budgets, and President Zardari has assured that these would be resolved. He said that the MQM had urged the president to get the federal government to cover the Rs8.5 billion dues of KESC instead of the burden being passed onto the public through retroactive and future raises. Meanwhile, Online news agency reported that President Zardari had hinted at the holding of local government elections by October. He is reported to have asked the PPP and other coalition parties to prepare for the polls.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 15th, 2010.