ISLAMABAD / KARACHI: As efforts to end lawlessness in Karachi continue, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is set to approve the second phase of the ongoing targeted operation in the city on Wednesday, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Interestingly, in an unexpected turn of events, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chose to preside over a crucial law and order meeting at the Pakistan Air Force Faisal Base in Karachi, opting out of the usual location for such meetings – either the CM House or Governor House.
Adding to the controversy, Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad was not present at the meeting despite having received the premier along with Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah from the airport.
It is reported the governor was not present as the federal government considered the option of removing him from his post following Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s convicted worker Saulat Mirza’s allegations.
However, presiding over the meeting, PM Nawaz said, “I want to see complete peace in Karachi come what may.”
Lauding the Rangers for taking action against criminals and targeted killers in Karachi, the premier said, “The operation must continue till the elimination of the last criminal. We have to bring back the lights of Karachi which economic hub of Pakistan.”
Assuring the Rangers of the federal government’s full support in their operations, Nawaz said, “Pakistan’s economy depends on Karachi, but unfortunately some elements have disrupted the law and order situation. We have to deal with them with iron hands.”
“We will give defeat those elements who want to impose their writ in Karachi and other areas of the country,” he added.
Further, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah briefed the premier regarding the cases referred to military courts.
The premier was informed 369 encounters have taken places and 56 belonging to outfit organisations have been killed.
The issue of removal of barriers also came under discussion and DG Rangers informed the meeting that they have started taking action without any discrimination.
‘Targeting influential MQM leaders’
Earlier, The Express Tribune had learnt Nawaz, who is visiting the city to preside over a meeting on the law and order situation, will be apprised of the law enforcement agencies’ (LEAs) strategy on how to commence the second phase of the crucial operation.
Sources said Rangers had arrested members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) ‘militant wing’ in the first phase while in the second phase, they will target influential leaders involved in target killing, extortion and other crimes. “Well known faces of MQM — in Parliament and in Sindh Assembly — would be investigated,” the sources revealed.
The sources said the LEAs are determined to arrest and punish all those accused of criminal activities in the city in line with the federal government’s commitment to take the Karachi operation to its logical end.
Speaking about the role of Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari in ensuring peace in Karachi, the sources said both the federal government and Pakistan Army are happy with Zardari. “Playing his cards smartly, Zardari is benefiting from the efforts to restore peace in the city,” they said.
The sources further stated that the federal government and security agencies will also counter MQM’s claims that the operation specifically targets them.
In a meeting with his party lawmakers, the sources said the premier expressed satisfaction over the progress made in the Karachi operation, claiming that there has been considerable reduction in incidents of street crime, kidnapping for ransom and target killing.
“I would personally go to Karachi to get progress updates,” he said.
Separately, PM Nawaz met Corps commander Karachi and DG Rangers to discuss the security situation of Karachi.
‘Operation against criminals’
While addressing a ceremony at the Karachi Stock Exchange, PM Nawaz asserted the Karachi operation was not against any party but against criminals.
“We are not targeting a single party in the operation but we cannot spare any criminal,” the premier said,
PM Nawaz reiterated that before the Karachi operation began, the government consulted all political parties and was not the sole decision-maker.
“We consulted all political parties before launching the Karachi operation and have been successful in curbing crime in the city,” he added.
Further, he said peace is necessary for a prosperous Karachi – the metropolis of Pakistan.
Claiming that the Sindh government was supportive of the operation, Nawaz said, “There has been a decline in criminal activities since the start of the operation.”
PM Nawaz further said armed militias and those responsible for sectarian violence will all be targeted whichever province they are hiding in.