October 26, 2013Print : Top Story
ISLAMABAD: If and when the MQM rejoins the Sindh government, the targeted operation against extortionists, target killers, kidnappers for ransom and mafias will not be affected in any way because it is against criminals and is non-political and non-partisan, Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid said on Friday.
“If some political party becomes a part of the Sindh government, it has nothing to do with the ongoing drive that was launched with universal political support,” he told The News, when contacted.
Reports indicate that the MQM may honour the invitation extended by the Pakistan People’s Party ruling Sindh to join its provincial government. For the purpose, a meeting between the two sides was said to be in progress in Dubai under the chairmanship of the PPP chief and former president Asif Ali Zardari at the time of writing this report.
“The federal government is determined to continue the targeted operation in Karachi uninterrupted and with the pace it was kicked off in order to purge the city of criminal elements,” Pervaiz Rashid said.
He said that it would be unfair to assume that the campaign would be negatively affected if the MQM joined the Sindh government. “It is a political development while the drive is against the criminals.”
Since the start of the operation in early September after an across-the-board political consensus emerged with the involvement of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the MQM raised hue and cry for a couple of times over two arrests, including those of Nadim Hashmi, a former member of the Sindh Assembly, and Kazim Abbas Rizvi, an alleged killer of leading lawyer Naimat Ali Randhawa.
Hashmi, who was taken into custody on the charge of killing two policemen on the day the MQM violently protested, was set free after a few days as the joint investigation team did not find sufficient evidence against him to indict him. However, the MQM is mum after these sporadic protests, which shows that it has now nothing to protest as far as the operation is concerned.
After the targeted campaign was kick-started, there have been no strikes and shutterdown calls in Karachi that were frequently issued over the past several years to protest different official decisions.
Billions of rupees were always lost in these agitations apart from the loss of lives of hundreds of people.Pervaiz Rashid said that all the political parties which have stakes in Karachi continued to back the operation with the same vigour and zeal because everyone wanted to rid Karachi of criminals, who had made it hostage.
The minister referred to an address of MQM supreme leader Altaf Hussain delivered on Thursday night in which he said that it was necessary to fully support the operation, and that those arrested should prove their innocence in courts of law. He said that the speech unequivocally reflected his backing of the drive.
Senior federal officials, who closely monitor the Karachi operation, say that the central government would remain watchful of the progress in the concerted drive. “If we found any laxity and flexibility on the part of provincial government after the MQM joined it, we will not just ignore it, and take it up with the captain i.e. Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah,” one of them told The News.
He said that it was for the PPP to decide about its political bedfellows and that the federal government was in no position to stop or persuade it in this connection.“Our first and foremost priority is that the operation should not be dented, even slightly, by any political development in Sindh or elsewhere,” the official said. “I think this is very much clear to the Sindh government.”
He said that so far the campaign being spearheaded by the Rangers in collaboration with the police was going satisfactorily, and the Sindh government’s seriousness was not in doubt. “The forces that are carrying out the operation will not be disheartened by the joining of the government by the MQM because they are not aiming at this party but the criminals. The PPP has been making this offer to the MQM since long.”
The official said that the crucial phase of the drive was about to start as the trial of those apprehended on charges of heinous crimes would begin under the drastically changed Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997, which has been made foolproof and stringent to deal with target killers, extortionists and kidnappers for ransom.
Side by side, he said, the operation would continue apace, and added that the conviction of the accused by the Anti-Terrorism Courts (ATCs) would definitely have a good impact on the campaign and send an unambiguous message to the criminals that they can’t now get off scot-free.
According to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, more than 5,000 accused have so far been arrested during the operation. This figure will go up as the drive is proceeding at a considerable speed.