KARACHI: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that Karachi is on a tinderbox and in order to save it the legal fraternity must once again play a role and take to the streets.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader held a flurry of meetings on Thursday, accompanied by the party’s Khwaja Asif, Rana Sanaullah and Sardar Yaqoob Baloch among others. “If Karachi gets out of hand, there is no guarantee for Pakistan’s sovereignty and integrity,” he said. “The judiciary, generals and politicians should be placed under ruthless accountability to cleanse the country.” Sharif was referring to one of Karachi’s bloodiest weeks in which over 100 people were shot dead, leaving the Sindh government to scramble for solutions. The Rangers have been conducting ‘surgical operations’ in troubled spots.
Sharif was critical of the provincial government for what he said was duping the nation about these targeted operations against criminals. They are nothing but a friendly operation, he remarked. The uprising and unrest in Karachi are tantamount to destabilising Pakistan, he said. The economic activities in Karachi ensure the stability of Pakistan from Khyber to Gwadar. Now all democratic forces, civil society groups, lawyers and businessmen should play a part to calm the waters.
All forces should join hands to carve out a peaceful solution because the future of 20 million citizens should not be left at the mercy of criminal gangs.
Sharif rejected calls to send in the army to quell the violence as the country was in hot water already. It would not be a sane decision. Ruthless accountability across the board is the only solution. He lamented that amid the turmoil, the government was trumpeting an “all is well” chorus.
The first delegation that called on Sharif comprised of aggrieved family members of slain lawyers Fahim Riaz Siddiqui and Nadeem Bhatti. The second delegation consisted of junior and young entrepreneurs and businessmen led by SM Muneer and Mian Zahid Hussein. The third meeting was held with city’s lawyers and the fourth session was with members of civil society.
On the sidelines and running contrary to Sharif’s stance, the PML-N’s Khwaja Asif told The Express Tribune that the army could be invited to control the unrest and lawlessness and deweaponise the city under Article 245 of the Constitution.
He admitted that the party urgently needed to haul up discipline and its set-up in Sindh if they wanted to play an inspiring role in the province. This is why PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to visit Karachi immediately after Eidul Fitr.
In reply to a question, Asif refuted claims that Ishaq Dar had telephoned the deputy convener of the Muttahidda Qaumi Movement on Wednesday evening. He also refuted claims that any backdoor meetings or contacts were taking place with the MQM to form an alliance against the government.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2011.