Karachi operation gathering steam
By Mohammad Jamil
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 or those 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, and 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 has 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.
Some analysts saw an international plot and a game plan behind this move, as they linked Karachi operation with US intervention in Syria, observing that it was used as a diversion to engage Pakistan internally while international community invaded Syria. Since no major party supported the demand for military action in Karachi, 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 to 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 thought that criminals in MQM would be spared. However, the question remained as to why the MQM had been opposing military action in the past, and why it deemed it appropriate to demand military action in Karachi at a point in time when military was already fighting the menace of terrorism in FATA?
The reasons abound. Firstly, the MQM leadership seems to have lost control over many of its activists and militants, as they now operate independently and do not want to share the booty with the party. Secondly, investigation is being carried out against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain by London Metropolitan Police on charges of money laundering and provocation to torture and life threats to his opponents. Earlier in June, as part of their investigation into the Imran Farooq murder case Scotland Yard had raided Altaf Hussain’s house in London. In fact, British government has become very sensitive on money-laundering after 9/11 events, which is a very serious offence in Britain. The UK police are investigating the murder of Dr. Imran Farooq case on multiple lines including the one that Dr. Farooq was in discussions with his colleagues and members of the public to start his own independent political career.
The way the New Scotland Yard is moving this time round, 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. Of course, after a military rule, it is always a change of dress from the khaki to civilian robes, but the power dispensation stays elitist, privileged and autocratic, with a few hangers-on getting into this exclusive club by hanging on to coat-tails of the dynasts and their henchmen. When the people remained denied and deprived, the MQM continued to get its share of the cake. This time round, MQM leadership’s shenanigans would not work, as the PML-N being the single largest party at national level and the PPP at Sindh level do not need MQM’s support to form the respective governments.