Incessant violence and the loss of hundreds of lives in politically motivated killings have forced the Awami National Party (ANP) to call upon the government to deploy the army in Karachi to restore peace, but only for a ‘specific time period’.
ANP’s demand came four days after the MQM floated a proposal for military deployment in Karachi. However, the government opposed the suggestion on the grounds that the military cannot offer a permanent solution to violence in the city.
“We believe that the army should be called in to take control of the deteriorating law and order situation,” said ANP’s senior leader Senator Ilyas Ahmed Bilour. “The ANP forwarded the proposal after the failure of political and ethnic initiatives to save innocent people from continuing bloodshed.”
Commenting on MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s recent statement, the ANP senator said his party supports military deployment for only five to six months. Hussain had called for army’s intervention in the financial capital to curb target killings and street crime in a telephonic address on Wednesday. A meeting of ANP’s central executive committee will be convened in Islamabad after ANP President Asfandyar Wali’s return from Germany where he is undergoing medical treatment. A fresh reminder has already been sent to the government earlier this week, Bilour told The Express Tribune. However, the government has ruled out a military operation despite the demand by its coalition partners.
To deploy the military in Karachi amounts to conceding defeat of democratic forces, said political secretary to the president Faisal Raza Abedi. “The PPP’s top leadership does not accept the wisdom of a military operation in Karachi,” he said.
“The ANP and the MQM have yet to forward a formal request to the government,” he told The Express Tribune when asked if the president had received their proposals. “President Zardari is all set to convene an all-party conference to find a political resolution to the violence in Karachi as well as in Balochistan in the third week of Ramazan.”
When questioned on increasing strength of Frontier Constabulary and Rangers in Karachi, he said Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Babar Awan are working on a strategy and they will brief the president within a couple days.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2011.