The killings in Karachi go on. With eight more killed on Tuesday, the toll over the last two days reached 36. To add a different element to the situation, MQM chief Altaf Hussain, according to a private TV channel, has called on followers in the city, which his party counts as a stronghold, to store a month’s rations. This has created scare all over the city. The situation is grave and needs to be handled with due care. Meanwhile, the Sindh government gave police powers to the Frontier Constabulary as well, while both Rangers and police patrolled the city.
Altaf’s statement on the face of it represented a cop-out, a refusal by the MQM to take any responsibility for the situation even though it had withdrawn the resignation of its Sindh Governor, and thus paved the way for the return of its federal and provincial ministers, who had also tendered their resignations.The crisis as in Karachi should be intolerable for the government even if it was happening in a remote and isolated part of the country.
It is even more intolerable when it occurs in the country’s most populous city, its financial and industrial capital, and its sole port. The government should involve all the stakeholders in the process of seeking peace in the city, including political parties, both in and out of government, as well as other civil society organisations.
There will remain another aspect, which can only be covered if the culprits are not just arrested, but also brought to trial and punished. The IGP Sindh may have told the Sindh Chief Minister in a meeting that 91 target killers had been arrested, admitting 191 target killings, but catching them is not enough. They have to be tried and convicted, to break the image of impunity they have earned.
The federal government also must not think that it has done its duty by sending Interior Minister Rehman Malik to the city to hold meetings and issue loud but empty promises of peace in days. The situation there is intolerable, and it is about time that a thorough investigation of foreign involvement was made. There are too many enemies of the country for this aspect to be ignored.
And this is an aspect where the federal government, which is directly in charge of foreign relations, is solely responsible, whereas its responsibility for law and order is also there, as a failsafe for the provincial government. It should always remember that this problem cannot be cosily sorted out within the coalition, but needs all parties to work together to end the bloodshed. – Nation