Targeted operation in Karachi
By Mohammad Jamil
In the cabinet meeting held in Karachi on Wednesday, the government decided to launch operation in Karachi. Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had consultations for two days with all the stakeholders including political parties, media, business community and members of civil society. There was almost consensus on targeted action against terrorists‚ target killers‚ kidnappers for ransom and extortionists. Briefing the newsmen, Interior Minister Ch. Nisar Ali Khan said that rangers would lead the targeted action and police will have a supporting role. In the Supreme Court verdict on Karachi in 2011, the court 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”.
The news was shocking that Attorney General of Pakistan submitted before the Supreme Court a government report the other day that Muhajir Republic Army was also operating in the city. MQM not only denied the allegation but also termed it ridiculous. The MQM lately demanded military action in Karachi, while others demanded of the government to launch a targeted operation against criminal gangs using Police and Rangers. MQM’s demand to hand over the city to Army was rather intriguing. 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.
All and sundry must support the government decision, and media may also be allowed only filtered information regarding the progress in the operation. 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. And courts, media, general masses, civil society, intellectuals and political parties must lend an unflinching support to the government action in Karachi. However, the question is why the MQM has been opposing military action in the past, and why it deemed it appropriate to demand military action in Karachi at this point in time when military is already fighting the menace of terrorism in FATA and low-intensity insurgency in Balochistan?
The reasons abound. Firstly, the MQM leadership seems to have lost control over its 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. British government is 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, Altaf Hussain seems to be in real soup. To add to his embarrassment, UK High Commissioner to Pakistan had said: “Under British laws promoting hatred and violence is liable to punishment and Altaf Hussain’s statements must be taken seriously.” Finally, 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. The people remain denied and deprived; however the MQM continued to get its share of the cake.
Before May 11 elections, the MQM’s Central Organizer of US Chapter had submitted to the UN a memorandum against the Election Commission’s decision for delimitation of some constituencies in Karachi. Urging international community like the UN to use its influence for holding fair and free elections and putting pressure on ECP to stop pursuing the process of delimitation of constituencies in Karachi was obviously an undesirable misadventure by the MQM as a political party of Pakistan. It was indeed an attempt to tarnish the image of Pakistan as a sovereign state, and reflective of lack of trust by the party concerned in ECP and government of Pakistan. Involving international community on internal affairs of Pakistan is a condemnable act, which needs to be viewed seriously by all segments of the society including, media, civil society, political parties and general masses. Having all said, the entire nation must support the military action against extortionists, criminals, land mafia and target killers, as failure is not an option.