KARACHI: Growing impatient with law enforcers’ inability to control the law and order situation in Karachi, President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday sought ‘deadline’ from police and Rangers officials to restore peace in the metropolis.
“I receive a different excuse from you every time … let me know when I can see peace in Karachi,” he said while chairing a meeting on law and order at Bilawal House.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad attended the meeting, along with the provincial chief secretary, additional home secretary, IGP, Rangers director general and other senior officials.
Sources privy to the meeting told The Express Tribune that President Zardari severely criticised the performance of law enforcers in Karachi. “Some have asked me to impose governor’s rule in Sindh and are questioning the competency of law-enforcers … Enough is enough,” sources quoted President Zardari as telling the officials of law-enforcement agencies.
“Police and Rangers have been given a free hand in Karachi, but they still haven’t proven to be competent … If you need any assistance, tell me now … but I want to see peace in Karachi,” he said.
Following the dressing down, law enforcement officials asked President Zardari to hand over operational control of 40 sensitive police stations to Rangers and suggested bringing in police reinforcements from rural Sindh for a targeted operation in the city.
The meeting also decided to revive the old intelligence network within police stations by seeking the help of notable people in different localities.
“Sub-division (mohalla) committees comprising notable people from a certain area will be revived and more policemen would be recruited,” a senior police official said while talking about the meeting’s decision.
Talking to reporters following the meeting, former interior minister Rehman Malik said action would be taken against criminals, regardless of their political affiliations. He added that more police and Rangers pickets would also be set up in sensitive areas of the city.
Malik said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s statement about taking Karachi under his control was also discussed at the meeting. “He is a federal minister … no one has stopped him from visiting Karachi and giving his input … but the Sindh government is doing its utmost to deal with the situation,” he said.
According to Malik, the president has also asked the Sindh government to install more CCTV cameras in Karachi. “The provincial government has assured President Zardari that 3,000 cameras will be set up by the end of this year.”
He revealed the Sindh government has also planned to convene an all-party conference on the Karachi issue.
Unrest in Lyari
The meeting also focused on the situation in Lyari, which has seen clashes between the Baloch and Kutchi communities over the past few days.
The president was briefed by some Pakistan Peoples Party leaders from Lyari. According to sources, the leaders said that there was no dispute between the Baloch and Kutchi communities. They claimed a ‘third force’ was trying to create a rift in the area. The meeting decided that stakeholders in Lyari would be invited to a ‘peace conference’ in order to resolve the situation amicably. The date for the conference will be announced soon.
Negotiations with MQM
President Zardari once again asked the chief minister to develop a good working relationship with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. Opposition leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah and Rehman Malik will accompany the chief minister during negotiations with the MQM, which will begin within a few days. According to party sources, Malik will also contact Altaf Hussain prior to the start of the negotiations.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2013.