With the three-day death toll in Karachi touching 40, parliament on Monday resonated with scathing criticism of law enforcement and intelligence agencies as well as stark warnings by legislators.
While some legislators warned of the state completely losing its writ in the country’s largest city, others actually went as far as warning that the situation in the financial capital could become like Balochistan or erstwhile East Pakistan.
Legislators in both the Senate as well as the National Assembly, from both the treasury and opposition benches, hit out at the authorities for being unable to control the violence which has assumed both sectarian and political tinges.
The most drastic speech came from a legislator from Karachi’s ruling party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which is also part of the ruling coalition.
MNA Waseem Akhtar chastised the armed forces for being silent spectators to what he termed spreading Talibanisation. The MNA said the army top brass should take notice instead of making political statements, ostensibly referring to the army chief’s statement last week, and warned of a situation like Balochistan or even former East Pakistan in Karachi. He demanded the government implement the Supreme Court’s orders to curb Talibanisation in Karachi.
Maulana Attaur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) urged the government and law enforcement agencies to take immediate steps to stop the targeting of the religious segment of society – referring to the killing of 11 students of a seminary in Karachi over the weekend. “Agencies are promoting a divide on the basis of religion, sect and language, which will push the country to a dangerous path.”
He claimed the incident had taken place after security was removed from the seminary. “To which direction do you want to push all those who are studying there?”
Pakistan Muslim Legaue-Nawaz’s Sahibzada Fazal Karim was particularly hard on intelligence agencies. “Secret agencies get billions of rupees to perform their duties and they know who is killing whom, but are not stopping it,” he added. “Keeping a soft corner for the Taliban at a time when they have taken responsibility for several terrorist activates in the country is beyond comprehension,” he maintained.
Karim asked for the constitution of a commission led by the chief justice of the Sindh High Court to address the law and order issues of Karachi.
In the Senate
Speaking on a motion on the law and order situation with particular reference to target killings and sectarian violence, Senator Kulsoom Parveen from Balochistan called for the Army to be deployed in Quetta and Karachi for Muharram.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) also had strong words for killing frenzy in Karachi. “It has [law and order] engulfed the whole country. If practice of letting free the criminals is not stopped, it will push the country into a state of free-for-all”, he said. “Ethnic cleansing is going on in Karachi and Balochistan, which must not be allowed or it will pave the way for internal and civil war in the country.”
Zahid Khan of the Awami National Party (ANP) said that all political forces must make collective efforts for restoration of peace in Karachi. “The Sindh government has failed to keep a check on criminals in Karachi. It should take bold steps to resolve the issue.”
Khan’s fellow partyman, Senator Shahi Syed protested against what he termed the government’s failure to take action against criminal gangs involved in Karachi’s unrest. “Only 5 % Taliban militants in Karachi have controlled 95 % area of Karachi,” he questioned, observing that Interior Minister Rehman Malik acts as if he knows nothing.
He also walked out of Senate saying, “My dear Interior Minister Rehman Malik comes to Karachi, suspends the DSP traffic and then takes a flight to Islamabad … this is what he is doing.” Even Senator Babar Awan could not help but put in his criticism. “Incidents of killings are only reported by media and no government machinery has been seen on the spots of violence.”
At the beginning of the session, the Senate passed a unanimous resolution expressing profound grief and shock over the sad demise of former senator Syed Iqbal Haider. Leader of the House Jahangir Badar moved the motion, which stated that Haider was a seasoned politician who made important contributions to the business of the house.
(Read: Karachi bloodbath)
Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2012.
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