KARACHI: Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has asked the Director General of Rangers to immediately discuss a security plan with all industrial associations in Karachi under which personnel of the paramilitary force could control the exit and entry points of the industrial areas in the city.
In a meeting with industrialists and traders at the Corps Headquarters on Wednesday night, the army chief expressed concern over reports of flight of capital and closure of industries due to various reasons, including the law and order situation.
He asked the DG Rangers to finalise the security plan as soon as possible so that it could be immediately implemented.
Gen Kayani assured the industrialists and traders that every possible step would be taken to restore Karachi’s industrial and trading activities back to normalcy. He said the performance of Rangers would be improved and the army would not let down their recent efforts and they would continue to work under the guidance of the army.
According to a statement issued by the All Karachi Tajir Itehad, the army chief was concerned that culprits were being apprehended but could not be punished due to lack of an appropriate system.
The business community apprised the COAS of their concern over the deteriorating law and order situation and their adverse effects on industrial and trading activities.
According to a handout of the Bin Qasim Association of Trade and Industry whose patron-in-chief and founder president Mian Mohammad Ahmed, president Usman Ahmed, vice-president Abdul Rasheed Jan Mohammad and other prominent members of the community also called on the army chief, they told the generals that they were worried about the possibility of an early end to the Karachi operation. They feared the city could once again slide into lawlessness if powers given to Rangers were withdrawn. The group said the operation being conducted by Rangers must continue for a longer period. If there is peace and stability, business and economy will grow; if the law and order situation does not improve capital will move to other countries.
Reacting to reports that the government could end the operation prematurely and again hand over the responsibility of maintaining peace in the city to police, they pointed out that political elements’ infiltration into city’s police raised a question mark on the force’s ability to maintain law and order.
President of the All Karachi Tajir Itehad Atiq Mir said traders would welcome the army for restoring peace in the city. He added they would also support a strict army operation if it was aimed at improving the situation.
He called for some sort of a system of communication between traders and the army in order to avoid any bitterness after an operation by Rangers in the markets. However, he said traders should be taken into confidence before Rangers conducted any surgical operation.
The businessmen, when contacted, did not clearly say about the army chief’s point of view about an army operation as demanded by traders.
Some businessmen said Gen Kayani did not give any indication about any army operation in Karachi and, according to him, the army’s first priority was to keep a vigil at the borders.
He said that democracy should flourish and for that Rangers could be further empowered to maintain harmony in the city.
Some businessmen said the army chief was hopeful that Rangers would curb lawlessness and they were doing the best job in that regard. The option of an army operation was open if the Rangers failed to live up to the expectation was how the businessmen thought was General Kayani’s point of view.
When the businessmen expressed their concern over only three months given to the Rangers for improving the city situation, Gen Kayani said positive results had already started appearing and the mandate of the paramilitary force could be extended depending on the situation.
He asked the businessmen to remain patient and keep the wheel of industries and trade rolling and maintain trust in the army which would definitely produce practical results in solving the problems being faced by the business community.
Gen Kayani agreed with the businessmen that there should be an emergency complaint call number of the Rangers, of two to three digits, on the pattern of police and other services. He asked the Rangers’ officials to take steps in that regard.