While Lahore’s security apparatus was being thoroughly criticised and questioned in the wake of the kidnapping of Shahbaz Taseer, the late governor Salmaan Taseer’s son, Punjab’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif held court at the Karachi Press Club to express his concern at the state of Karachi.
Sharif expressed a great deal of shock and horror at the security conditions in Karachi. “In the past three days I have met with businessmen, entrepreneurs and intellectuals.” Sharif said Karachi is the ‘gateway to and heart of Pakistan’ and pivotal to the country’s economy, and its problems needed to be resolved since this was “difficult, but not impossible”.
His solutions involve depoliticising Karachi’s police force, and conducting a “ruthless operation” against extortionists and criminals.
Sharif said his visit to Karachi was to meet citizens and understand their issues. “Lahore and Lyari, Gujranwala and Gwadar, Hazara and Hyderabad…. They all have intimate connections,” said Sharif, calling Karachi the ‘mother’ city that took in residents of its ‘brother and sister’ cities.
Sharif tried to create an air of camaraderie with the press corps, rattling off a few sentences in Sindhi with a reporter for a Sindhi television channel, and joking with others.
Even though the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) is not popular in Karachi, Sharif hopes to change that and acknowledges his party was not able to play an active role in the province.
His security detail comprised Punjab police officers, which a reporter questioned, asking if he did not trust the Sindh police. Sharif shot off his reply – “Of course I trust the Sindh police”.
As soon as the press conference wrapped up, Sharif, Sanaullah and their security detail – comprising men clad in suits – and a coterie of police vehicles, sped away in seconds.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2011.