Reiterating the commitment of the federal government to support a targeted operation in the violence-hit port city of Karachi after evolving “grand consensus” among political forces, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan on Thursday made it clear that Sindh Chief Minister would be the “captain” of the operation team and Rangers and other law enforcement agencies would work under his directions.
Speaking on a point of order during the National Assembly session, Nisar hoped that a grand consensus would be developed for targeted operation in Karachi to bring normalcy there.
The interior minister further said he would also discuss the matter with Sindh chief minister and governor during his visit to Karachi on Tuesday.
He told the House that a special meeting of the cabinet would be held at the Governor’s House in Karachi to discuss the prevailing law and order in the provincial metropolis.
Opposing a demand made by Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) lawmakers to deploy army in the port city, Nisar said that would be tantamount to disrespecting the mandate of the Sindh government.
He assured the House that all steps would be taken after consultation with the provincial government.
Nisar said it was about time to speak truth about the situation in Karachi that could not improve through speeches and point-scoring. He said he had prepared a strategy for bringing an improvement in the metroplolis that would be presented before the special meeting in Karachi.
Sharing broad contours of his strategy, Nisar advocated for a targeted operation in Karachi against extortionists, terrorists and kidnappers for ransom, adding that a monitoring committee would work under the supervision of the Sindh chief minister to oversee the operation.
“This committee would comprise of politicians, senior media persons and senior citizens of Karachi”. He also urged assistance from the Supreme Court and high courts for action against criminal elements.
The interior minister said a comprehensive security plan would be tabled in parliament covering external and internal security subjects.
Responding to the points raised by MMQ leader Farooq Sattar, Nisar assured that the arrested MQM workers would be dealt with per law of the land.
Nisar also assured the House that Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz would brief the House today (Friday) about Pakistan’s stance on Syria as well as on other important issues.
MQM lawmakers observe walkout:
Earlier, lawmakers from the MQM staged a walkout from the National Assembly to mark a protest over the arrest of several MQM workers across Karachi city. Speaking on a point of order, MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar read out the list of workers who were due to be arrested, saying that the names of lawmakers, including him, were on the list.
He added that MQM’s demand for army deployment in Karachi was the reason behind its workers’ arrests which was “a slap in the face of democracy”.
Addressing a press conference later, Sattar said some of the arrested workers were patients of cancer or tuberculosis, while some were over 50 years of age.
He also criticised that the interior minister’s announcement of making the Sindh chief minister captain for a targeted operation in Karachi.
He said his own life was under threat but the government instead of providing security was worrying him more.
Opposition-treasury conflict unresolved:
The overnight standoff between the treasury benches and the opposition continued on Thursday as opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah was given a strong-worded response by State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Aftab Shaikh.
Expecting some consolation from the treasury, Shah took the floor at the start of the proceedings, saying the government was not giving importance to the House by ignoring legitimate demands of the opposition.
“The government is answerable to the parliament. Why does the government not brief the House on Doha dialogue, Taliban talks, LoC situation and government’s stance on Syria. Had we been given assurance that Sartaj Aziz would brief the House on Friday, we would never had boycotted the proceedings of the House yesterday (Wednesday),” he said, adding that the PPP’s previous government had always taken the opposition into confidence on all the issues and this parliamentary tradition should have been maintained.
“If the government cannot take the House into confidence, then it should at least take parliamentary leaders into confidence. The opposition will always help strengthening the democratic process in the country,” he added.
However, Shah was left speechless when Shaikh, in a bitter harsh tone, said the PML-N government would take the opposition parties onboard on all important national and international issues. He reminded the PPP leader that the PML-N had been labelled as a friendly opposition due to its cooperation with the PPP’s previous government and if the PPP was responding in the same manner, it was not a favour.
“It was a tradition of PML-N government to support the PPP government…why are you worried in just 80 days,” he added.
He was of the view that the opposition wanted to bring the people on the streets and derail the democratic process but the dream would never come true.
Calling in Army to Karachi is like giving steroids to a sick man. The real solution is putting in place a fair, corruption free police and judicial system. Since 90s, hundreds of police officers have been targeted and killed for taking action against criminals, backed by political parties. This issue needs to be addressed first, only then the police can work.
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