In a rare admission of failure to rein in the extortion mafia, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Innam Memon said on Thursday that the number of extortionist groups had increased from one in the past to many today.
The statement, made by the minister on the floor of the Sindh Assembly during an ongoing budget debate, would reflect poorly on the performance of the Pakistan People’s Party that returned to power following the May 11 general election after five years of uninterrupted rule both at the centre and in Sindh.
Karachi’s traders and businessmen used to pay extortion money to one extortionist group in the past, but today there were many such groups in the city, Memon said in his speech.
He added that the issue of extortion was not new but was some 25 years old.
Memon said that even non-Muslims were not spared on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr for Fitra and hides of sacrificial animals on Eid-ul-Azha.
He said the PPP-led government was well aware of the issue and the chief minister was taking steps to address it.
He stated that on May 12, 2007 “people were hunted like animals” and the chief justice of Pakistan was a witness to that massacre.
Speaking about the increasing incidents of violence, the minister said PPP leaders, including Munawwar Soharwardi and Abdullah Muraad, were gunned down in the city and the entire leadership of a religious party was blown up at Nishtar Park.
Those incidents did not take place during the PPP government’s tenure, he said, adding that exemplary peace and tranquility prevailed during a period between 2002 and 2007.
Memon said the last PPP-led coalition arrested the killers of Geo News reporter Wali Khan Babar and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) lawmaker Syed Raza Haider.
He pointed out that the government also arrested target killers and some of them confessed to have killed more than 100.
Memon said the PPP would ensure that there was no political victimisation in the province.
He said that of the 8,000 NRO cases, only one case which pertained to slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto was tried.