Karachi operations were bound to offend some: Rehman Malik

Interior minister responds to Zulfiqar Mirza's outburst; says action in Lyari was ordered by PM Gilani.

Noman Ahmed August 28, 2011

KARACHI: Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Sunday that a search operation in Lyari was bound to offend certain people but unbiased action was necessary across the board to end target killing in the metropolis.

Speaking to the media, the minister outlined details of the search operation being conducted in the affected areas, in particular in Lyari. He said that during the search operation a large weapons cache was recovered from Lyari as well as 103 suspects.

His remarks followed shortly after former Sindh Senior Minister Zulfiqar Mirza's press conference wherein the minister had lashed out against the search operation in Lyari and had termed Rehman Malik a 'pathological liar' and a danger to Pakistan.

The Interior Minister said that action in Lyari was being taken on the order of the Prime Minister and Sindh Chief Minister, adding that not taking action in Lyari out of fear of it affecting the party's vote bank would have been wrong and would have compromised the operation.

Malik said that the Prime Minister and President ordered across the board action, adding that no operation was conducted against the people of Lyari in particular. He added that indiscriminate action was being taken in Karachi based on "real-time intelligence" provided by all intelligence agencies, including, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Military Intelligence (MI) and special branches.

He said he had directed the acting DG Rangers to choose relevant ‘intelligence’ provided and in coordination with the police, take action without his approval but informing him prior to it.

Malik spoke of various areas where search operation were conducted including Katti Pahari, Pak Colony and Shah Faisal Colony. to name a few.

He further said that he wanted to take action in any area on credible information, adding that after he had received information about 18 abductees in Lyari, he launched a ‘silent operation’ in Lyari to rescue them as well as deciding to launch an operation in Lyari too.

The Interior Minister also spoke about his meeting with the business community on Saturday, and their woes related to the bhatta mafia in the city, in areas such as Nazimabad, Golimar, Sher Shah and Lyari.

The interior minister said 103 suspects were arrested on Sunday from  Allama Iqbal Colony, Zehri Para, Dhobi Ghat, Usmanabad and Jinnahbad.

Malik reiterated that action will continue against these miscreants until they are completely eliminated and peace prevails in the city.

Updated from Print Edition (below)

Government response: PPP, Rehman Malik try to play it cool

After the press conference by former Sindh Senior Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, the government and the senior party leadership – including Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik and the government’s chief spokesperson, Federal Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, said that Mirza’s remarks were his personal opinion – implying that they did not reflect party or government policy.

She also claimed that he had resigned from his government and party positions ‘for personal  reasons.’ Awan said that the government’s first priority was restoring the rule of law in Karachi. She contrasted Mirza’s diatribe against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) with what she called the government – and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) – policy of engaging with all players.

“Party decisions cannot be influenced by the personal opinion of a single individual,” she noted helpfully.

The federal interior minister, who was the target of  much of Mirza’s speech on Sunday, also tried to play down the allegations against him, trying to portray them as part of a brotherly spat.

“Zulfiqar Mirza is a younger brother to me and he can say anything he wants to me when he is angry. I don’t mind him saying those things,” said Malik.

(Read: Mirza demands ban on Malik’s entry in Sindh)

Malik then defended the actions that the government was taking to stem the tide of violence in Karachi. He also said that the entire operation had the backing of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

He said that 103 people have been arrested, of whom 15 people were ethnically Mohajirs.

(With additional reporting from agencies)

Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th,  2011.