Crackdown in Karachi is working!

Crackdown in Karachi is workingMohammad Jamil

Karachi operation is gathering steam; and there has been a marked decrease in bloodshed. The Rangers and Police have conducted raids in various parts of Karachi such as Lyari, Landhi, Korangi, Orangi Town, Pathan Colony and Soharab Goth. One does not see an iota of discrimination or favoritism, which is why the crackdown this time round is producing desired results. MQM leaders earlier protested that the operation was being targeted against the MQM, but recently MQM chief Altaf Hussain said that the MQM had been demanding operation against the criminals. The change in their attitude is reflective of the fact that there is incontrovertible evidence of elements in political and religious parties are involved in heinous crimes.

On Saturday, an eyewitness identified MQM activist Kazim Abbas Rizvi during an identification parade held at City Courts in connection with murder of Advocate Naimat Ali Randhawa. According to Additional Inspector General of Karachi Police Shahid Hayat, the detained suspect MQM worker Kazim Abbas Rizvi, had killed Advocate Naimat Ali Randhawa for pursuing the case of TV reporter Wali Khan Babar who had been killed in 2011. He said Advocate Randhawa’s murder was a “politically motivated targeted killing”. Addressing a press conference at the Central Police Office, he said the suspect had confessed to having killed eight people, including the advocate. Last month, targeted operation in Karachi was started against criminals, terrorists, batha mafia and land grabbers, after reaching consensus among all political parties, intelligentsia and civil society, it was decided that Rangers and Police would conduct the operation against criminals irrespective of their political affiliations.

But whenever MQM activists involved in heinous crimes are impounded, MQM leaders start protesting that MQM activists are being targeted and dubbed as criminals and murderers. Last month, life was paralysed in Karachi amid gunfire and arson attacks after police arrested Nadim Hashmi, a former MPA of the MQM on murder and terror charges over the killing of two cops. At least four vehicles were torched; schools, shops and petrol stations were closed. Since the targeted operation started in Karachi, scores of activists belonging to religious outfits, political activists and Lyari gang criminals have been arrested, but nobody reacted the way the MQM leadership reacted. In his address to the coordination committee members and senior leaders, MQM chief Altaf Hussain had at that time warned his workers to prepare mentally and physically to face 1992-like situation and confront state oppression with fortitude.

Since no major party supported the demand for military action in Karachi, and secondly military leadership was not in favour of military operation, MQM chief Altaf Hussain had no choice but to support the cabinet decision with regard to targeted action in Karachi. The Sindh government had declared that it owned the target operation against killers, criminals and extortionists in the city and dismissed the MQM’s perception that MQM or any political entity was being targeted. In fact, there was consensus on targeted action against terrorists‚ target killers‚ kidnappers for ransom and extortionists. Earlier, MQM supremeo Altaf Hussain had demanded of the government that operation in Karachi should be conducted by the army. However, all political parties had rejected that demand and agreed that operation should be conducted by the Rangers and Police.

Before the operation started, Interior Minister Ch. Nisar Ali Khan during briefing to the media had said that rangers would lead the targeted action and police would have a supporting role. Anyhow, the operation by the Rangers and Police is progressing satisfactorily, and have arrested many target killers and other criminals. It has to be mentioned that the Supreme Court in its verdict on Karachi in 2011 quoting intelligence agencies had stated that MQM, PPP and ANP have their militant wings in Karachi, which must be disbanded and criminal elements brought to book. The court said that “banned outfits including Sunni Tehreek are involved in extortion, while there are allegations of the same offence against parties such as Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamat-e-Islami (JI), Awami National Party (ANP) and MQM”.

Federal and Provincial governments and LEAs must proceed with firm resolve on single point agenda to maintain order and restore the rule of law. Criminal elements must be targeted irrespective of their political affiliations. All and sundry must support the government decision; courts, media, general masses, civil society, intellectuals and political parties must lend an unflinching support to the government action in Karachi. It has to be mentioned that the MQM had supported the decision for launching operation against criminals, mafias and extortionists, but had wishful thinking that criminals in MQM would be spared. The way the New Scotland Yard is investigating Imran Farooq murder case, Altaf Hussain seems to be in real soup. Despite MQM having won its traditional seats, the decline in votes is reflective of the fact that it is losing popularity in Sindh. Anyhow, the MQM has been part of almost every government after 1988, be it elected government or military dictatorship.

It has to be mentioned that Karachi is a commercial and industrial hub; it contributes maximum revenue to the exchequer, and its port caters to the entire country. Therefore, the city cannot be left at the mercy of extortionists, bhata mafia, land mafia and those involved in turf wars. In November 2012, the Supreme Court’s bench hearing the Karachi law and order case in its interim order had directed the Sindh government to take immediate action against all armed groups in Karachi including the Taliban, arrest all prisoners released on parole and nab all unregistered vehicles. It also exhorted Rangers and police to work with zeal to ensure peace in the city. Such remarks were a source of encouragement for law enforcing agencies that were ready to give their lives to protect the citizens. The honourable court had issued directives and guidelines that could help bring peace in Karachi. Having that said, the judiciary, law enforcing agencies and executive should continue facilitating each other to nab the criminals and put them in the dock to eliminate terrorism, target killings and kidnappings for extortion.

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