KARACHI, Sept 1: As the federal government has called a meeting of its cabinet in Karachi on Tuesday, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and the opposition Muttahida Qaumi Movement are mulling their best options to restore peace to the city before they formally go to cross swords with each other at the meeting, it emerged on Sunday.

The provincial government has requested Islamabad to permit Sindh information minister Sharjeel Inam Memon to accompany Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah. However, the request is still awaiting a reply.

In its first ever meeting designed exclusively to thrash out the incessant violence in the city, the federal government has asked the chief secretary and provincial chiefs of security and intelligence agencies to give their input.

Apart from these officials and the chief minister, an invitation has been sent to MQM’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly Dr Farooq Sattar to turn up and argue on his party’s plea demanding army’s deployment for surgical operations to ensure security of people in the city.

“Yes, we have received an official invitation from the government and Dr Farooq Sattar is going to attend the meeting on Tuesday,” said MQM spokesman Wasay Jalil while speaking to Dawn.

“Dr Sattar will put our case before the cabinet and justify that our demand is for the larger interest of the people of Karachi and the rest of Pakistan,” he claimed.Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon confirmed the media reports that the provincial government had sought permission from Islamabad for him to attend the meeting. “The government has requested for me to be in the meeting alongside the chief minister, but we are still waiting for reply,” Mr Memon told Dawn.

Sources rebuffed the impression that the meeting, called in Karachi, had anything to roll the heads for the persistent volatile situation in the country’s economic hub.“As a matter of fact, Islamabad will extend its help to the provincial government to get the house in order. The prime minister realises that the law and order is a provincial matter and will respect it throughout,” said PML-N sources.

Officials in the Sindh government were sceptic about the Centre’s ‘real’ intentions, but said they had no qualms if Islamabad extended its hand to help conduct targeted operations irrespective of the fact that which party had stronghold in which neighbourhood.

“We are efficiently trying to tackle the problem and if the federal government extends its helping hand without imposing its authority, it will certainly be great help on its side,” said a provincial government official.

Monitoring body

While the mainstream political parties said they did not mind for establishment of joint monitoring teams, the members of which were selected from the parties, civil society and traders to keep the law and order in check, a final decision will be taken in the meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

Agreeing on the constitution of a monitoring committee, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said such bodies could only be effective if it was guaranteed that their recommendations would be taken seriously and acted upon.“We are already monitoring the situation someway, but it is government that has to do law enforcement and for any such committee to be useful action should be guaranteed on its recommendations,” said HRCP chief Zohra Yusuf.

Although other parties were agreed on de-weaponisation in Karachi, the MQM wanted that the policy be followed across the country. Officials said the government in the meeting could offer help to Sindh in intelligence gathering. However, without the provincial government’s nod the MQM demand could not be met.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Functional said they had not been invited to attend the cabinet meeting.

“We have not received any such invitation. Perhaps those parties have been invited who someway are responsible for the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi,” said a PML-F spokesman.

Similarly, the Awami National Party said it had not been invited to the Tuesday meeting. “We have not been invited by the government to attend the meeting,” said a senior ANP leader Bashir Jan.

He said the government seemed ‘not serious’ in bringing normality to Karachi, which was evident from its “selective approach to solve a grave problem through a naïve strategy”.

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