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August 22, 2011

Will army take over Karachi’s control?


August 22, 2011

Karachi has been under a severe scare since last week. Nabil Gabol, the twice elected PPP MNA from Lyari, has issued a warning that the situation is turning highly dangerous and it needs drastic surgery not by the police and Rangers but by those who enjoy actual command. He has not directly mentioned it but privately pointed out that the time has come to call in the army, saying that only the army can save the life and property of innocent citizens.
Gabol claimed last week that more than 500 terrorists were involved in this kidnapping and killing spree and he also knew the torture cells being run by the terrorists in the city. He had also claimed that his life too was in danger and the terrorists wanted to kill him.
Former PPP MNA from Lyari Waja Karimdad was also targeted and this incident further aggravated the already worsening situation. Waja was a poor party worker and he had been living in a two-room flat in an old building. Slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto had awarded him a PPP ticket and he was very popular among the party workers as well as the area people. Waja was living in a miserable condition as the party had totally ignored him. His murder is still a mystery and the party government does not seem interested in solving it. Gabol claimed that the local PPP leaders and workers were under threat and even some of the local party leaders were kidnapped and tortured by the armed group and they were forced to resign. In fact, the local party leaders and workers have no blessing of any party leader and they have no option but to leave the politics and the party quietly.
The situation in Karachi was very horrible, particularly on August 17 to 19 when more than two dozen chopped bodies were thrown on city streets while many other innocent people belonging to every community were kidnapped at gunpoint just to spread scare in the entire city.
Sindh had experienced a similar situation in 1989 when Syed Qaim Ali Shah was the chief

minister and the PPP and the MQM had been engaged in severe clashes.
The army had to intervene to stop kidnappings and activists from both the sides were released under the official cover and finally Qaim Ali Shah was replaced with Aftab Shaban Mirani as chief minister. Sindh is again undergoing a similar situation. Qaim Ali Shah is again the chief minister and the army is observing the situation minutely and it has conveyed to the civil government that the law and order has worsened in Karachi and the government needs to take measures to stop bloodshed.
Army chief General Kayani has also declared that the police and Rangers are capable of delivering but the army is ready to take over the control if the civil government calls it in. However, President Asif Zardari had decided not to call in the army for maintaining law and order and the task has been given to the police and Rangers.
Despite repeated claims by Rehman Malik and Manzoor Wassan that the powers have been given to the police and Rangers, the law enforcement agencies are still reluctant to perform since they know that the political reconciliation will foil all their efforts and every action will be politicised. There will be no backing of the government, nor will the ruling party stand by its decision. Rapid changes in the policies and in the mood of the rulers have been the main obstacle behind establishing the writ of the state, as the police and Rangers authorities have conveyed to the government that they cannot perform professionally in the face of political pressures.
Political observers strongly believe that the three coalition partners - PPP, MQM and ANP ñ no more stand where they had been when they had formed a coalition after the 2008 elections. An unrealistic approach and demands, threats and the bluffing game have destroyed their trust in each other, while ethnicity has fueled the fire to a highly alarming level. Disputes are being settled through muscle power, while the leaderships of the three parties have been ignoring the actual issues.
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