PM rules out army in Karachi, surgical operation on the cards


ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Wednesday ruled out calling in the army to control the spiralling violence in Karachi, while reports poured in that the government was considering a potential surgical operation in the country’s bleeding financial capital.
TV channels quoted sources in the Sindh Home Department as saying that the government could launch a focused surgical operation in the city to restore order, but a final decision on the issue would be taken by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah today (Thursday).
Meanwhile, Gilani told reporters that the country’s “political leadership is capable enough to address the issue”, rejecting an earlier demand by PPP’s Minister of State for Ports and Shipping Nabeel Gabol to call in the army to control the city.
“Those were his personal views and it is not the point of view of my party,” Gilani said. He condemned targeted killings in Karachi, saying he had personally talked to all stakeholders in Karachi and efforts were underway to restore peace to the city.
Asked if foreign elements were involved in the Karachi unrest, Gilani said he could only comment once he received a detailed report from the interior minister.
In Karachi, there was no let-up in the ongoing violence as another 13 people were gunned down on Wednesday, taking the number of the people killed in the last 24 hours to 44. Life remained paralysed in the city, as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) observed a day of mourning. Over 90 people have been killed in less than a week in the wake of by-election in the PS-94 constituency.
The MQM, meanwhile, deferred its decision of giving an ultimatum for quitting the coalition. The party instead demanded the government arrest those responsible for the Sher Shah killings, claiming that their identity had been traced.
“There are witnesses who have identified the killers of innocent people in Sher Shah, and therefore the government should arrest them and expose those behind the conspiracy to disturb the city’s peace.” MQM Rabita Committee Deputy Convener Dr Farooq Sattar told a press conference that “we have rendered sacrifices in the past and are prepared to make more in the future”.
Responding to the MQM’s press conference, ANP Sindh President Shahi Syed said his party was ready for an impartial inquiry under the army, because people do not trust the police. “My party will have no objection even if the inquiry probes the murders of MQM activists first. The culprits should be brought to book irrespective of their political affiliation.”
Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the bhata mafia was responsible for the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi, particularly in Lyari and Sher Shah areas. He said some of the arrested people had confessed to the crimes, adding that neither the MQM nor the ANP was involved in the violence in Karachi.