Sindh govt prepares for showdown in Karachi

Sindh Home Minister says a list of sensitive areas has been prepared and the government is ready for an operation.

Express/zia Khan/hafeez Tunio October 21, 2010

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza said on Thursday that police operations will take place against target killers adding.

Mirza said that the term ‘operation’ should not be used because given what has happened in the past, the term can be misused by those trying worsen the law and order situation in the city.

The home minister added that any operation that takes place will be with his consent.

Mirza informed that the suspects who were arrested in relation to the recent spate of target killings have not been released. Those that were released were suspects from past incidents and they were set free by the courts due to lack of evidence against them.

He said that the government has the support of information networks and agencies and they will be successful in arresting those responsible for the situation in Karachi.

Meanwhile, Awami National Party (ANP) chief Shahi Syed said that his party had boycotted the elections of PS-94 to avoid bloodshed, but unfortunately there was no peace even after that.

Syed added that if operations take place, they should be across the board as people want peace.

Earlier the home minister had said that a list of sensitive areas has been made and the government is ready for launching 'surgical' operations in Karachi.

Mirza will be meeting the MQM leadership at the Governor House later in the day.

Meanwhile, a police official was shot dead in Hijrat Colony earlier in the day, while another person was killed in Joharabad Colony.

Updated from print edition (below)

Death toll climbs as govt mulls curfew

While Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Wednesday ruled out the deployment of the army to restore order in  violence-scarred Karachi, Sindh’s home department has proposed imposing curfew and starting surgical operations in sensitive parts of the city, according to a top provincial official.

Nevertheless, President Asif Ali Zardari directed the federal and provincial security troubleshooters not to let ‘political considerations’ hinder efforts to control the spate of target killings in the nation’s hive of business.

The overall fatality toll climbed to 85 in five days of target shootings in the city, with 11 fresh killings on Wednesday.

The proposal to clamp curfew in parts of the city emerged at a high-level meeting held under Sindh Home Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan here on Tuesday, with Inspector General of Police Sultan Salahuddin Babar Khattak, deputy inspectors general of all three zones and top officials of Rangers and intelligence outfits in attendance.

The DIGs have been tasked to prepare lists of sensitive areas and criminals wanted by police, Collin Kamran Dost, special home secretary of Sindh, told The Express Tribune.

“The decision as to when and where to impose curfew depends on Thursday’s situation and is subject to the Sindh chief minister’s approval,” the secretary said.

The duration of curfew would depend on how sensitive the area is, but it is likely to span between six and 10 hours, he added.

During the meeting, the DIGs sought more time before they could mount surgical operations in the city’s east, west and south zones, sources said.

“We should be given a free hand and resources, (then) I can give you results. How can one expect good results under pressure and the political reconciliation policy?” sources quoted one DIG as asking the meeting.

Police sources said that more than 150 people have been arrested so far from different city areas following the recent target killings. The clues provided by those arrested could become the basis of launching a targeted operation. No plan to hand Karachi to army

While contradicting his party ministers’ statements, Prime Minister Gilani on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of handing control of Karachi to the army.  “Nabeel Gabol’s statement about calling the army in Karachi is his personal opinion and not the party’s policy,” the premier said, adding that Raja Riaz’s remarks regarding media persons also did not reflect the government policy.

Talking to reporters here at the CDA directorate, Gilani said that political forces would sit together to reach a consensus on how to curb the lawlessness in Karachi, as all the political parties are concerned over the situation.

“I directed the authorities concerned to chalk out a comprehensive plan to curb the menace,” he said, adding that the army was also part of the government and it could get its assistance.

On speculation cited by a reporter that the city situation might have been manipulated by foreign hands, Gilani said he would respond to this query once he received a detailed report from Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Zardari’s directions

President Zardari directed the federal and provincial security troubleshooters not to let ‘political considerations’ hinder efforts to control the ongoing spate of target killings in Karachi. At a meeting here with Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, Zardari did not specify limitations forcing law enforcers to go ahead with only a ‘calculated’ approach to save the country’s largest city from months of violence.

But the expression appeared to be referring to an ethnic and political tussle between the MQM and the ANP.

Zardari had also given provincial authorities a free hand to decide on whether to call the military in to control the shooting spree that has claimed dozen of lives in the metropolis for the past few days. “It is the decision that has to be taken by the provincial authorities responsible for maintaining law and order,” a spokesperson for the president told The Express Tribune.

Also in an overnight meeting of an inner circle of his Party Peoples Party (PPP) Zardari snubbed calls by the ANP to hand control of Karachi to the army. The president’s directive for disregard to political consideration also indicates a growing rift between the PPP and the MQM, coalition partners at the Centre and in Sindh.

On Tuesday night, the meeting of PPP’s core committee regretted what it called a ‘hostile’ attitude of the MQM and termed its alliance with the Karachi-based group ‘unpleasant’. Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar also said the provincial government would decide to impose curfew and conduct an operation in troubled parts of the city.

Rehman Malik said in a briefing to the president that some groups notorious for extorting money from businessmen and traders were backing the killers. Malik, however, did not present any written report to the president.

Meanwhile a handout by the presidency said the law and order situation, particularly the recent incidents of violence in Karachi, was discussed during President Zardari’s meeting with Rehman Malik and Zulfiqar Mirza.

Condemning the recent incidents, the president said a handful of vicious elements would not be allowed to disturb peace and stability of the country’s economic hub and peace would be restored at all costs.

He had directed the authorities concerned to bring all those involved in such heinous incidents to justice regardless of their affiliations.

New ‘extortion group’

At an inauguration ceremony of the first ‘day care centre’ at a women police station in Islamabad, Rehman Malik disclosed that the presence of new ‘extortion group’ has compelled the government to impose curfew in the city. “A new extortion group is acting in Lyari and Shershah which left more than 33 innocent citizens dead,” he said, promising to expose the group. Many criminals have been arrested or killed with “bhata chits” in their pockets, he said.

additional reporting AZAM KHAN & ZAHID GISHKORI

Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2010.

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Tanzeel | 10 years ago | Reply Lyari gangs killed innocent Urdu Speakings and couple of Punjabis in Shershah. Its Pashtoons territory and the way Urdu speakings were killed after getting marked speaks volume, MQM MUST do something to curb this sort of terrorism.
User | 10 years ago | Reply Do they have to wait so long till a decision is made. What are they waiting for? So that the people responsible go underground. Total incompetence or is there a hidden agenda?
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