KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday directed the Sindh government to constitute a ‘peace coordination committee’ to check the deadly spiral of violence in the commercial hub of the country.
At a high-level huddle at Bilawal House in Karachi, where representatives of all coalition partners were present, President Zardari also called for a ‘joint strategy’ to tackle the problem.
A six-member committee will be formed with equal representation from all the three coalition partners – Pakistan Peoples Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Awami National Party.
The committee will be headed by Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, who will present a weekly progress report to the president.
President Zardari told the meeting that if the three allies joined hands, they could end targeted killings and restore peace in the metropolis.
He directed members of the new peace committee to liaise with the home minister and chief minister in order to ensure timely action against extortionists and target killers. It is the ‘shared responsibility’ of all stakeholders to help restore order in Karachi, he added.
President Zardari insisted the forces that wanted to derail the PPP-led government were involved in Karachi’s violence, official sources told The Express Tribune.
“These kinds of incidents are aimed at destroying our democratic government but we know how to foil their conspiracies,” he asserted.
Attendees at the Bilawal House huddle included Governor Dr Isharatul Ebad Khan, Dr Farooq Sattar, Babar Ghauri, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Home Minister Manzoor Wassan.
Joint Interrogation Team
According to sources, members of the MQM and ANP expressed their reservations over the performance of a Joint Interrogation Team (JIT) being formed by the police to investigate high-profile cases in the province.
“We do not know how the JIT works and what are its findings. If possible, the findings should be shared with us,” sources privy to the development quoted MQM and ANP leaders as saying.
On this the president directed Home Minister Wassan to share details of the JIT reports with the peace coordination committee members.
The meeting participants stressed the need to give full authority to police officials and law-enforcers if the situation was to be controlled effectively.
“I need peace in the city. The federal government will provide you the resources, now it’s your responsibly to control the law and order,” President Zardari said addressing the chief minister and governor.
During the meeting the issue of Lyari was also raised where law-enforcement agencies have started indiscriminate action against suspects.
Reacting to remarks expressed by some participants, the president said: “I get a minute-by-minute update on Lyari. Please do not repeat the same things here. [Peace] is the shared responsibly of all the coalition partners and we should try to make joint efforts to control the [escalating] situation.”
Interior Minister Malik asserted that some criminals were taking shelter in political parties and were using political platforms of MQM, ANP and PPP to spread violence.
“All participants at the meeting have unanimously decided to take action against these criminals. No party will own these criminals,” he declared.
After the meeting, a delegation of MQM led by Farooq Sattar met with President Zardari. They claimed that no political party was involved in violence, but some extortionists and people of the land mafia had created this mess.
According to sources, the MQM leaders told the president that they were facing pressure from their supporters for local government elections without any delay.
In response, the president said that local government elections would be held soon.
MQM leaders also brought to President Zardari’s attention that a “citizen alliance” was emerging against the MQM. According to sources, they said that some leaders of the PPP were also supporting these forces against the MQM through “backdoor channels”.
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2012.