Police think Lyari’s too hot to handle for Edhi


In the name of operation against criminals, law enforcers and government authorities have restricted ambulances from entering Lyari and bringing out the wounded and the deceased, said renowned founder of Pakistan’s largest philanthropist organisation, the Edhi Foundation, Abdul Sattar Edhi on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference with the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) office bearers, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) activists and other civil society workers at the Karachi Press Club, Edhi said that the government has also discontinued the supply of water, natural gas, electricity and lifesaving drugs, and when he attempted entering Lyari, he was forcefully confined to his house.
“I want to go into Lyari and help people by providing them with lifesaving drugs, food and other commodities, but when I announced to do so, the police came to my house on the directives of Superintendent of Police (SP) Chaudhry Aslam and told me that I must remain inside my house. Four policemen are permanently posted outside my house,” he added.
A thing like this never happened to Edhi when he was working in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and Afghanistan or even in northern Pakistan where the Taliban and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces were fighting each other.
But the local authorities are not allowing Edhi to enter Lyari. Why is this so, when he has been allowed entry in areas of conflict around the world, he asked.
“Since last six years, the Edhi Foundation has been providing lifesaving drugs, meat and other food item to the Lyari General Hospital, but since the police started their operation, they have stopped that supply as well,” said Edhi.
He said that SP Aslam called him up, but he did not answer his call. He claimed that there was no gang war in Lyari, as he had not been looted in the locality for 40 years.
When asked what services he would immediately start if allowed entry in Lyari, he said that he would send ambulances first so that the injured and the dead could be brought out, and then he would start supplying food items.
“I have 100,000 flour bags that I want to distribute among the victims of the law enforcers’ operation in Lyari,” he said.
He also said that law enforcers have blocked all the roads leading to Lyari due to their operation and since they are not allowing ambulances to enter the area, the injured are being transported on donkey carts and pushcarts, which might increase the number of causalities.
Quoting newspaper reports regarding the Lyari operation, Edhi said that over 40 people have been killed so far by law enforcers and hundreds have been injured.
Many families have fled to Balochistan and other parts of the country to save their lives, and thousands of families remain stranded inside Lyari Town, which has been cordoned off by the law enforcers, he added.
“I’ve spent my life visiting Lyari, but never witnessed any law and order situation. I believe that Lyari is the most peaceful area in the city. A gang war does not exist at all. Even then, if you tell me that there are criminals in Lyari, then you have to tell me where criminals do not exist in Pakistan. How did these criminals get so powerful that you are conducting an operation against them? I demand to constitute a high level judicial commission to probe who encouraged these criminals to exist and grow in the town,” said Edhi.
Quoting from more newspapers, he said that few criminals have announced that they want to surrender in front of Pakistan Rangers (Sindh).
“Why is the Sindh government not accepting their demand,” he questioned. “If the government does not trust the Rangers also, then why are billions of rupees being spent on them in Sindh?”
The welfare worker demanded that government immediately stop Lyari operation and allow his foundation’s ambulances to enter the embattled town.
PMA’s Dr Idress Adhi said that the police have also stopped the supply of water, gas and electricity to Lyari and there are sanitation services. “If such a situation prevails for some more time, different epidemics may break out in the area,” he added.
“Women and infants are the worst affected by this situation and among the 700,000 people in the area, there must be hundreds of patients,” Adhi said. “The government must allow doctors to enter the town or ensure that patients may be transported to hospitals.”