The cauldron boils on…

Rightly, the focus of the entire nation – the government, the judiciary, the army, the media and the public – remains riveted on the highly precarious situation in Karachi. The acuteness of the predicament is revealed by the question, “Do you want to save the country or the government?” That Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry posed to the Advocate General of Sindh during the hearing on Tuesday of the suo moto case on target killings in Karachi. Justice Chaudhry’s other questions were no less pertinent and, predictably, not only left the AG speechless, but also exposed the government’s pathetic listlessness in the face of a situation that had been crying out for quick and firm action. Why were joint investigation teams formed, if no action was to be taken on their reports?

Why have judges not been appointed for the anti-terrorism courts so far, though the Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court had recommended names in 2009 and 2011? Why does the government want to induct its favourite judges while the Chief Justice has put up the names of honest judges for the posts? Why have the killers of 306 (the death toll this year) not been arrested? Considering Karachi’s unending blood-soaked drama, the COAS has also demanded more powers for the Rangers, when he called on the President.

Dr Zulfiqar Mirza’s outburst against the MQM and Interior Minister Rehman Malik about their alleged role in bringing Karachi to such a critical pass, at a specially called press conference on August 28, has continued to make waves, as more and more voices, mostly in support of his thesis, are being heard. Apparently, his stock of beans has not run out yet; he keeps spilling them even though they just tend to firm up the accusations he had earlier levelled. Though belated, the MQM has come out with its reaction, but the impact of Mirza’s assertions, made while holding the Holy Quran on his head to lend them authenticity, has not withered away.

In the meantime, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jehangir has, while deposing before the apex court, accused the MQM of having introduced the culture of bhatta collection (extortion of money) in Karachi, maintaining that it persists in the practice. Calls for the ouster of Rehman Malik have been made by former President PPP Balochistan and Senator Lashkari Raisani and MNA Humayun Kurd. Senator Raisani believes that not relieving Mr Malik of his duties immediately would put the country’s existence in danger, warning the government that decisions about Pakistan’s politics should not be made in Washington and London. This was obviously an allusion to the dictation the Interior Minister allegedly receives from these capitals.

MNA Kurd chimes in with the Senator, and assuring that Dr Mirza’s charges against Mr Malik are true, accuses him of plotting to disintegrate the country.This is not the time for the government to remain bogged down in inaction. It is time to act and act fast. If the cries of the victims of the killing spree that has been going on for years in Karachi at the hands of rival gangs, sponsored and patronised by powerful political forces in the city, have not awakened the rulers from their slumber, the outspoken expression of Karachi’s critical condition should jolt them into action now. Or, they should see the writing on the wall. – Nation