As the bodies piled up in Karachi, temperatures rose with an exchange of warnings and concerns by the political leadership. However, the question about who is behind violence remained unanswered.
Speaking on the latest crisis faced by Karachi, Prime Minister Yousaf
Raza Gilani hinted that more “aggressive” measures will be taken to restore peace in the financial hub. The prime minister also warned of “across the board action”.
Gilani met Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Governor Sindh Ishratul Ebad separately in the day. According to a handout statement by his office, Gilani promised Malik ‘additional operational logistics’ to step up efforts aimed at controlling the latest spree of killings.
The statement, however, was vague about what additional logistics Gilani was referring to.
Sources familiar with the matter said more troops from paramilitary Rangers or Frontier Constabulary may be deployed - a move the government has been considering for some time now.
In his meeting with Ebad, the second in less than 24 hours, Gilani said government agencies will take action against criminals destroying peace in the city. “Show no leniency to elements that are ruining the city,” the prime minister said.
On the direction of the prime minister, Rehman Malik reached Karachi on Thursday evening. The interior minister said there is a need for a parliamentary committee with representation from all parties to probe the killings.
MQM blames government
Karachi’s largest party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, blamed certain leaders in the government for letting the violence perpetuate.
“The government, police and the provincial administration are silent spectators to the ongoing violence which is being fuelled by the Peoples Peace Committee and the Lyari gang war,” MQM’s Raza Haroon said. “The international community and human rights organisations will have to see that these terrorists promoting gang war, lawlessness and killings in Karachi have the support of certain leaders of the government,” Haroon told a press conference after a meeting of Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) coordination committee.
Haroon said that as a result of the government’s ignorance, those involved in the violence have become fearless and are now targeting innocent Urdu-speaking people just to sabotage the good relations between the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the MQM, which may join the government by the end of Ramazan.
(Read: PPP-MQM: The deal has been done)
Home minister says he can’t tell
Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan said the government will take action against target killers irrespective of their party affiliations.
Addressing a press conference after attending a meeting on law and order, which was presided over by Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Wassan said: “Enough is enough, we have finally decided to take action.”
Speaking on the decisions taken at the meeting, he said that the recent incidents were a result of target killings of five Baloch who were kidnapped and killed in different areas.
He said that officials of intelligence agencies, police and Rangers jointly briefed the meeting where terrorists are operating.
“We have directed police and law enforcement agencies to take action, regardless of whether the suspects are from PPP, MQM or ANP,” he said.
When asked to disclose who was behind the violence, the minister was reluctant to respond and said: “It will be premature to name the conspirators. We will take sudden action against them and have devised a plan.”
Altaf Hussain calls prime minister
MQM chief Altaf Hussain called Gilani and expressed his concern over the situation. Farooq Sattar, the deputy convener of MQM’s coordination committee, also spoke to the prime minister and briefed him about the security problems.
In a recent report, the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said 800 people have been killed in Karachi so far this year, compared with 748 in 2010.
(ADDITIONAL INPUT BY HAFEEZ TUNIO)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2011.