KARACHI: In yet another heated session at the Sindh Assembly, Pakistan Peoples Party MPAs criticised the role of their former coalition partners, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, accusing them of harbouring and protecting criminals in the city.
It is not Lyari’s but Karachi’s gangs that are involved in the targeted killings and ensuing violence in the city, said PPP lawmakers from Lyari. “Everyone one knows about this mafia’s operations, which include heinous crimes such as extortion and killing people over the collection of animal hides and fitra,” said PPP’s Saniya Naz Baloch, while addressing the Sindh Assembly session on Thursday.
In her budget speech, Baloch alleged that some people, belonging to a ‘certain’ political party had started a drama of “bhatta culture” and “Parchi system”. These were the very same people who were leveling allegations against the peaceful people of Lyari who had rendered great sacrifices in the creation of Pakistan and the development of the city.
Her speech was in retaliation to the fiery speeches from the MQM MPAs, who for the past three to four days, had been criticising the “bhatta culture”, which they claimed was being exercised by those involved in the Lyari gang war.
Javeed Nagori, another PPP MPA from Lyari, said that more than 300 innocent Baloch had been killed in the guise of operations. The killings had all been started by a political party in 2002, he said. He added that the political party had tried to win the support of Lyari’s residents but on receiving no response from the people, it started an operation in the area. “We request everyone to accept us as peaceful citizens of Karachi and stop terming the people of Lyari as elements of gang war and bhatta mafia. Who is involved in violence and bhatta culture in Liaquatabad, Azizabad and Nazimabad? Can they also hold us responsible for it too?” he asked, as MQM lawmakers scoffed at their allegations.
In his speech, the information minister, Sharjeel Inam Memon, also pointed out that targeted killings and violence were not a new phenomenon in Karachi. “I want to put some things on record here,” he said before listing down some events. “The 37 most-wanted terrorists involved in heinous crimes were not released by our governments on parole. Arbab Ghulam Rahim was chief minister at the time and everyone knows whose party had been given the home department portfolio.”
These criminals were on parole for five years and only Dr Zulfiqar Mirza cancelled it in 2008 when he became home minister, Memon added. Despite the provincial government’s efforts, those criminals had not been arrested so far and some of them are reportedly living aboard, he added.
The provincial information minister remarked that high profile murders of PPP workers started in General Musharraf’s tenure when they lost prominent leaders such as Munawar Suharwardi and Abdul Murad who was a sitting MPA in those days. “They did not arrest a single murderer. We, however, have arrested the culprits involved in the murder cases of MQM MPA Raza Hyder and Geo TV reporter Wali Babar,” he said, pointing towards the opposition benches.
Memon added that the government arrested the criminals but unfortunately the judiciary released them. The chief justice of Pakistan is an eyewitness of the May 12 incident where Karachi witnessed a bloody day, he said, adding the case is still pending. “Only three hearings have been conducted so far.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2013.