The violence in Karachi and proposals of asking the army to take control of the city overshadowed the National Assembly session on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain, in a telephonic address to party workers, had said that the Pakistan Army be called to control the killings in the city. The Awami National Party, another stakeholder in the city, had suggested that the army be called for a month to control the situation.
(Read: MQM, ANP call for army deployment in Karachi)
Chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said: “I oppose military operations in Fata and other parts of the country, including Karachi.” Army is a national institution and should not be brought into conflict with the public, he added.
He, however, questioned the role of the government saying it had failed to control the ongoing killing spree in Karachi.
The JUI-F chief urged all political parties to sit together and find a political solution to the violence in the financial capital. “Parliament cannot find a solution to the problem through mere debate, which is marred by allegations between rivals,” he said, while the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz exchanged personal allegations.
Hanif Abbasi from the PML-N criticised the government for failing to curb the violence and said President Asif Ali Zardari and other top leadership of the PPP had been negligent.
Abbasi said that his party supports the creation of more provinces on an administrative basis and not on linguistic one, while alleging the ruling party was trying to repeat the history of 1971, when Bangladesh was created.
In response, PPP Punjab President Safdar Waraich, instead of discussing the situation in Karachi, started counting corruption cases against the PML-N.
Upset over the point-scoring campaign in the house, Bushra Gohar from the ANP said it seems that some parliamentarians are not interested in discussing the situation in the metropolis.
She criticised Interior Minister Rehman Malik for issuing “irresponsible” statements regarding target killings in the city. Gohar said that it is the responsibility of the ruling party to demonstrate tolerance and patience even when faced with the harshest criticism from the opposition.
Meanwhile, PML-N deputy secretary general Ahsan Iqbal renewed his party’s demand of inviting intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies’ heads to brief legislators.
The PML-N staged a token walkout from the house over load-shedding during Ramazan.
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) also expressed its concern over the killings. President of the SCBA, Asma Jahangir, said if the country descends into chaos, no one will be safe.
In a statement issued in Lahore on Thursday, she said the situation was complex, but the violence mostly stems from political polarisation and escalating ethnic and religious intolerance.
Asma also spoke against the practice of extortion, which she said was being used by all political parties in Karachi to arm and recruit cadres. The parliament must form a committee, with members from all political parties to address the issue.
“The parliament should not transfer its burden to other institutions and not expect that its sovereignty will be tarnished,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2011.