Top military commanders on Thursday raised a red flag over the spiralling violence in Karachi and called upon political outfits to agree on a plan to immediately decommission weapons.
Talking to The Express Tribune after a corps commanders’ meeting chaired by Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Thursday, a defence source said “the situation in Karachi has deteriorated to alarming proportions and violence could get out of control if urgent action is not taken immediately.”
The military commanders held “lengthy discussions” on the events that followed the Abbas Town blast as well as the spate of targeted killings in Karachi, confirmed the source.
“It is high time that all political forces in Karachi sit down and agree on de-weaponisation of the city,” said the source. There is a general sense prevailing in the security establishment that the city’s problems primarily stem from the ‘turf war’ between major political parties, the source added.
However, the source said, the involvement of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has complicated the situation.
Yet the army, at least publicly, appears to be treading a careful path. A press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Thursday’s meeting focused on professional matters and a comprehensive review of the external security environment of the country.
However, a source familiar with developments disclosed that the top military brass was increasingly concerned about the lack of action by authorities to stem the tide of violence in the port city. The security establishment aired its concerns hours after bodies of two kidnapped Rangers men were recovered from the Mewa Shah graveyard in Karachi.
The slain officials, Hawaldar Muneer Ahmed Bhutto and Aijaz Ahmed Baloch, were from the intelligence wing of Sindh Rangers. They were abducted on Wednesday. A total of nine people were killed in Karachi during the day in separate incidents of violence.
One of the main worries of the security establishment is lack of prosecution of those involved in targeted killings. They believe political connections of the culprits result in them not being punished. Despite concerns, the army is still looking up to the civilian authorities to handle the situation.
A military official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the army had not been asked to take charge of the security of Karachi. “Rangers, police and other law enforcing agencies can still bring normalcy if they can plug the holes,” the official added.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2013.