It’s never too late


After letting Karachi bleed for the past many months, the government finally launched a surgical operation in the nine violence-hit zones with the Rangers getting a free hand to take action against those involved in extortions, kidnappings, killings and other criminal activities. The operation came on the heels of the bloodiest week which saw more than 100 people killed in different parts of the city.

President Zardari, who was given a detailed briefing by Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wasan on the issue, directed the provincial government to bring criminals to justice regardless of their political affiliations. PPP’s detractors can disagree with its other policies but it was right in that the deployment of army in Karachi at this stage would weaken the democratic dispensation in the country.

It would be wrong to suggest that the federal government was reluctant to call in the army because of its lack of confidence. If past experience is any guide, military operations have never helped restore peace anywhere in the country. Balochistan is a case in point where prolonged army action during the Musharraf era further deepened the sense of insecurity among the local population which continues to be haunted by the worst kind of repression to which they were subjected.

And Karachi is no stranger to such experiences. The military operation launched there during Mian Nawaz Sharif’s second term as PM could not deliver the desired results as the ethnic group brought into existence and patronised by Zia emerged much stronger after the army had returned to the barracks. The action ostensibly aimed at nabbing the criminals and disarming them failed because they had been given enough time to find safe places for them to hide.

Later, during the second Benazir government the famous crackdown by Naseerullah Baber neutralised the MQM and the armed gangs associated with it but it did not last long. The party continued to maintain a low profile for some time until it was revived by General Musharraf who did everything he could possibly do to strengthen it in a bid to create for him a safe constituency in Karachi. This helped the MQM consolidate its position and rule the Urban Sindh the way it wanted.

After the last general elections when it joined the ruling coalition at the federal and provincial level, it reverted to its old tactics of dictating its terms and exacting concessions by subjecting its senior partners to blackmail. But the MQM has failed to recognise the changed realities which saw the PPP and the ANP reorganise their cadres to effectively deal with the threats posed by a particular ethnic group to other communities. The MQM was thus left with no choice but to raise a hue and cry over the demographic changes threatening the party’s dominance in the megapolis.

Altaf bhai’s recent demand for Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s resignation because of his inability to get his orders implemented for the restoration of peace in Karachi seems to be part of the MQM’s move to keep the PPP leadership under pressure. But he can’t simply lay the blame on the PM and issue a call for ‘peaceful’ protests across the country merely because the government had refused to release the three MQM workers who were arrested for their alleged involvement in the killing of five police commandos in Korangi’s Chakra Goth area last Saturday.

The MQM is well within its right to object to the intemperate language used by Dr Zulfikar Mirza against its leadership but it would be unfair on its part to expect the President and the PM to disregard the intelligence reports presented to them by the Sindh’s Senior Minister which contained “evidence” of the MQM’s alleged involvement in the recent spate of target killings in the city. Mirza is no Nabeel Gabol to revolt against his own leadership over personal issues; he keeps convincing it to take a firm action against the so-called allies who are bent upon marginalising role of the PPP in its erstwhile stronghold besides playing havoc with Karachi’s peace.

No doubt the federal government has so far remained insensitive to the deteriorating law and order situation of Karachi and has risen from a deep slumber only after witnessing the country’s commercial hub descend into anarchy. The PPP leadership will have to keep in mind that it cannot continue to pursue the so-called policy of political reconciliation at the expense of the innocent citizens who are being killed with impunity by the armed-to-the-teeth gangs associated with an ethnic group. It needs to draw a line between appeasing the MQM and improving governance.

Those in authority must take the surgical operation launched against criminals to its logical end rather than indulging in political expediency if they are serious about restoring peace to the restive city.

The writer is Executive Editor, Pakistan Today


  1. Mr Sarmad has beautifully analysed the situation in Karachi. Although the 'surgical operation' has started but it can not reach to its logical conclusion until and unless one irritant is out of the operational zone. I mean Rehman Malik whose entire energies are wasted in praising Altaf Hussain and I will not be surprised he would even be sabotaging the operations by tipping of terrorists belonging to MQM. He appears uncomfortable when he is with Dr Zulfikar Mirza but at ease and comfort when he is surrounded by Farooq Sattar and the incumbent governor of Sindh who represents the federation but his loyalties lie with Altaf Hussain.

    The reports emanating from London and Karachi do not bode well for Altaf Hussain. There are reports published in pro MQM papers published from Karachi saying that two persons have been arrested at the tip off from the Scotland Yard, These individuals are wanted by the London Police for the murder of disgraced MQM leader Imran Farooq.

  2. Ethnic group created and patronized by Zia?!!! Muhajir-Pakhtun riots first took place in this city in the 60s. It was only in the late 70s when the quota system established to give an edge to outside students in Karachi's government educational institutions became too hard-hitting that the APMSO was formed. This became MQM later on. Quite the editor and analyst you are sir. I am no fan of the MQM either but the lack of objectivity was so blatant I had to write something.

    • Do you think the reason behind the ongoing carnage is the quota system.Give us a break.

      • No its the combined responsibility of the ANP, PPP and the MQM. That was the reason for the formation of the MQM. Basic comprehension if you read carefully.

  3. Mr Sarmad, how do you call this a surgical operation, where the media is informed in advance and Minister for Interior wants to be shown supervising these operations. Before this farce of a surgical operation, the Minister for Interior had asked the target killers and extortionists to move out, so they can be out of harms way. This government has failed to discharge its primary constitutional obligation to provide security of life to its citizens and punish murderers and criminals. Over 6,000 citizens have fallen prey to these target killers and yet these murderers are being treated as if they are political activists and the only thing we see taking place are political negotiations during past three years, while thousands are dying. It is shocking. Your article is way off the point.

  4. The MQM is a fascist party with its hands tainted with blood of innocent victims and funded by forced collection ie extortion from traders and small businessmen. They have resorted and introduced violence in politics and Karachi is today hostage to so many gangs in addition to MQM, which started it all. The Quota system should be strictly enforced till such time schools, colleges and universities enable the rural Sindhi population to compete with them. Already all state corporations located in Karachi have busted the quota for urban Sindh by over 100% to 300%.

  5. @mazhar85
    After reading you column i reached in this point that In Karachi violence when three political parties ruling and they are responsible these violence PPP is federal party they have government in Sindh,ANP is collation with government,MQM is political majority in city.
    Chief minster of Sindh before media claim we take action against criminal and we want peace in city,it fact all parties claim peace but they have no political will to solve this problem.
    Senior journalist Haroon-ur-Rasheed interviewing in private Chanel (Samma)he disclosed that out of the 24,000 missing NATO containers several were filled with weapons, being used in Karachi,he further say ANP have full support PPP to create violence against MQM. He claim I could prove before court if I fail I quit journalism.
    He said police are main source to peace police system involve in politics so haw the take action against crimes. They should have free hand.
    If they are self involve in this killing so it fact they are want to promote foreign agenda CM responsible of this situation.

    I have no words to describe pain of those people they are effected during volition,my class matter belong one community when I asked him how you feel about other community after smiling he said I proud my community and I respect all those by heart Sunday an other my closely friend came in enjoy mood and say loudly we want peaceful and free Pakistan then I asked him how it possible he said when we think and knowing import ens of our vote we want changing with vote not built.

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