Party workers have the right to protest killings: Minister

Raza Haroon appealed to the president & prime minister to look into the attacks on Muttahida Qaumi Movement workers.


Saba Imtiaz August 31, 2012

KARACHI:


Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Raza Haroon has linked the recent spate of murders of party activists to party chief Altaf Hussain’s recent statement opposing sectarianism and claims that activists are being killed because of the stance the party has taken.


Haroon also revealed that the MQM held a consultative session with non-governmental organisations on Thursday to look at suggestions to reform the law vis-à-vis the protection of minorities and the blasphemy law.

Haroon, who is a member of the party’s Coordination Committee and the Sindh minister for information technology, addressed a press conference on Friday afternoon at the MQM’s Khursheed Memorial Secretariat.

“We had a consultation session with non-governmental organisations on Thursday,” he said, responding to a question on whether the party, as a partner in the federal and provincial government, had any ideas on how to reform the institutional issues when it came to the protection of minorities and the blasphemy law. “Several suggestions were proposed including for a bill against the harassment of minorities. As far as Rimsha’s case is concerned, we looked at other high-profile cases as well and looked at ideas. What the idea is that why can we just not adopt the Quaid-e-Azam’s speech of August 11? We have not prepared a law as yet, but when we do, it will be presented in the National Assembly as well as the Sindh Assembly,” Haroon said.

In his speech, Haroon highlighted the murders of Shias throughout Pakistan. “They are being taken off buses and what is shameful is that they are killed after being identified,” he said. “On the other hand, the injustices against members of minority faiths, who are Pakistanis, have spread a sense of insecurity among them. Many Hindu families have left for India and an 11-year-old girl called Rimsha has been arrested near Islamabad and Christian families have been forced to leave the area,” Haroon said, alluding to the case of a young girl being arrested on alleged charges of blasphemy. “This has not just ruined Pakistan’s image abroad but has also made us bow our heads in shame.”

The minister said that MQM workers were being killed for their efforts in trying to deter sectarianism and working to strengthen Pakistan.

He recounted that four MQM workers had been killed since August 28 and several had been injured in attacks in different areas.

The MQM leader questioned how these murders were taking place when there were thousands of police, Rangers and law enforcement agency personnel deputed on the roads, and called on the heads of these institutions to fulfil their responsibilities.

“The superficial and half-hearted approach of the relevant authorities in the federal and provincial governments makes it seem like they do not consider it their primary duty to protect the life and property of the public,” said Haroon.

Haroon reiterated that the MQM reserved its right as a “responsible coalition partner” to protest these killings in a democratic manner. He also appealed for calm and asked party workers not to hang around in lanes and squares.

Responding to questions about whether the party should call a ‘peace conference’ with other political and religious parties to discuss the issues, Haroon asked whether a ‘conference’ was necessary to send the message that peace was important and that attacks should stop. “If political parties do not know this then perhaps they should close up their offices and do something else,” he said.

MQM Coordination Committee member Waseem Aftab also hit back at Pakistan Peoples Party Karachi Division head, MNA Qadir Patel’s statement that the MQM was responsible for the state of law and order. “My advice to Qadir Patel is that he should not try to head the drugs, arms and land mafias and just head the Pakistan Peoples Party’s Karachi division.”

A question over the police’s stand that it would be able to take care of law and order if there was no ‘political interference’ was asked. Haroon said that there was a “particular area where there was a seven or eight-day operation,” referring to the operation in Lyari earlier this year.

“I am not talking about that operation’s legitimacy but it is on record that there was no extortion slip issued during that time period,” he said.

Haroon appealed to the president, prime minister, federal interior minister and the Sindh governor and chief minister to look into the attacks on MQM workers and the killings in the city.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2012.

COMMENTS (8)

Naila | 10 years ago | Reply

who is responsible for mass killing in Karachi ???

khaleeq nazar | 10 years ago | Reply

nice suggestion for the accountability of LEA.

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