Solving Karachi troubles

Contrary to the advice of politicians, the Supreme Court should cast as wide a net as possible in its hearings.


Editorial September 06, 2011

Since just about everyone else has had a go at trying to fix the situation in Karachi, no harm will be done if the Supreme Court also joins the effort. And if the early signs are anything to go by, the Supreme Court may just do a better job of it. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry ordered Inspector General of the Police Wajid Ali Durrani to remove station head officers who had been appointed based on their political affiliation rather than on merit. This, the Supreme Court correctly believes, can form the basis of an independent police force that would have the ability to withstand political pressure and go after those who are responsible for the carnage in Karachi. The sentiment is a fine one but the reality is that court orders alone are not enough to get this done. Political parties will use every tactic they possess to ensure that the chief justice’s instructions are ignored. The Supreme Court will have to persistently follow through and haul up politicians who are impeding the process to have any chance of success.

Contrary to the advice of politicians, the Supreme Court should cast as wide a net as possible in its hearings. Both President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani are opposed to a judicial commission investigating the allegations levelled by Zulfiqar Mirza, primarily against the MQM, saying that political matters should not be settled by courts. This is a misguided view. The accusations Mirza made at his press conference specifically concerned the law and order situation in Karachi and what he believed was the MQM’s role in igniting it. Now that the Supreme Court is looking into this very matter, it should ask Mirza to appear before the bench and substantiate what he has been saying for the last week.

What the Supreme Court can do is hold accountable those who were responsible for the violence and those law enforcement officials who didn’t do their jobs. What it cannot do is prevent future violence. Only the political parties, if they come to the realisation that the exercise of political power does not have to include violence, can ensure peace in the city.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th,  2011.

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