Nailing government down

The Supreme Court proceedings of the case about the dreadful situation in Karachi held on Tuesday leave little room for doubt that the Chief Justice and fellow Judges on the bench have finally nailed the government down to commit to work for the restoration of peace and harmony in the city. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry remarked that the time has come to call spade a spade. It is only in this way that the true story about the causes of target killings, the extortion of money and the grabbing of land would come out.

The observations the court made, the questions, some of them rhetorical, it posed, and the pronouncements it issued – all clearly suggest that the arguments and evidence so far presented to it have laid bare before it, in a convincing way, the factors behind the deadly turmoil. No doubt, the causes have not been hidden from anyone, but for a judicial institution to reach a conclusion that bears the stamp of authenticity, it has to go through a prescribed procedure.

Therefore, its order seeking a written guarantee from the government not to support armed gangs in Karachi is quite revealing. And so are the question, “Why are the political parties not asked to abolish terrorist wings from their ranks?” “What action has been taken by the police (high-ups) to purge them of political influence?´ The questions point to two main causes behind the disturbance of peace and the virtual stalling of life in the once throbbing metropolis and the financial, industrial and economic centre of the country that used to contribute the largest amount of revenue to the state exchequer, and these are: the turf wars waged by militant groups patronised by powerful ruling troika and the government’s inaction against them because of its own involvement in this brutal game.

The Chief Justice snubbed government attorney Babar Awan by telling him to come to the point and not make the court “a political arena” when he raised points, which the court believed were extraneous and irrelevant. The situation in Karachi cried out for action, and the Rangers, who were fully capable of controlling the mafias and bringing peace back to Karachi should have, the court remarked, unrestricted powers to take action against the criminal gangs without any discrimination at all.

Babar Awan’s argument that since out of the 23 districts of Sindh, things were out of control only in one district, it could not be termed a failure of the executive is questionable. If the mafias have been killing and plundering the citizens at will for years and the authorities are unable to get hold of them and bring them to book, and that too in the provincial capital, it would be hard to buy his thesis. The need of the hour is to move against such militants wings of political parties relentlessly and without any discrimination till they are rooted out. – Nation