ISLAMABAD: A few hours after a police crackdown was stopped in Karachi’s Lyari area, the government decided to launch a ‘grand operation’ within 48 hours.
Violent gun-battles between security forces and the local People’s Amn Committee (PAC) have rocked Lyari — a stronghold of the Pakistan People’s Party — over the past week.
The decision was first taken by the provincial government, before it was endorsed at a meeting at the presidency, chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari. The meeting was attended by top PPP leadership from Sindh, including Minister for Labour Khursheed Shah.
Rangers, police and other security forces will join forces in a large-scale attempt to stamp out the violence. The centre has directed the Sindh government to carry out an operation “across the board”.
President Zardari said that the life and property of innocent people in the area must be protected and law and order must be restored.
“The president directed that all law-violators be brought to book, regardless of their political affiliation, if any,” said the President’s Spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, while speaking to the media.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik threatened to torch any house where weapons and criminals were found, and gave all ‘miscreants’ 48 hours to surrender.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, who was attending the meeting with members of his cabinet, briefed the president about efforts under way to control the law and order situation in Lyari.
The current operation is being conducted against leaders and workers of the PAC, a group reportedly formed by the former Sindh home minister Zulfiqar Mirza and now headed by Uzair Baloch.
When asked why criminals and outlaws were being inducted into a PPP-formed body, Mr Shah admitted that ‘unwanted’ people had infiltrated the organisation.
Nawab Ali Wassan, an MNA from Khairpur, told Dawn that the president had been informed about Uzair Baloch’s willingness to surrender. However, he is only ready to surrender to the Rangers – not the Sindh police.
“Uzair Baloch told us that he wanted to be imprisoned in Punjab and not Sindh. He feared that he would be killed if he is handed over to the Sindh police,” Mr Wassan said.
Lyari PPP leader Rafique Engineer said that local people were stuck in their houses for over a week, facing food shortage and in dire need of other basic goods. “The ongoing operation against criminals in Lyari, which has lasted eight days, stopped on Friday, so locals can shift to other places or get food and daily-use items from the market,” said Mr Engineer.
Using force and politics
“The president reiterated that the situation in Lyari needs to be tackled both by the use of force against miscreants and through political means,” Mr Babar said.The president reiterated that it was important for all political forces to join hands to restore law and order in Karachi, adding that genuine problems of development were also necessary to address. — Sources: dawn.com