ISLAMABAD, Nov 13: The government continued to face the wrath of its allies in both houses of parliament for the second day on Tuesday over continuing violence in Karachi and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement threatened to boycott the proceedings if it did not get a positive response from the authorities by Wednesday.
Walkouts by the MQM members first from the National Assembly in the morning and from the Senate in the evening provided an opportunity to the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N to criticise both the MQM and the Awami National Party for lodging protests and, at the same time, sharing power with the Pakistan People’s Party at the centre and in Sindh.
“We are picking up bodies everyday. If this is what has to happen to us, there is no use of sitting in the house,” said MQM’s Dr Abdul Qadir Khanzada before leading the walkout in the National Assembly.
He warned that if the Muttahida did not get a response by Wednesday, “we will completely boycott the house”.
The MQM’s walkout from the Senate was led by former Karachi nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal who urged Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to take measures on an emergency basis and stay in Karachi till the time the situation became normal. Referring to the law and order situation in the country’s economic hub, the MQM senator said first businessmen had started fleeing the city because they were unable to pay huge amounts of extortion money and now even common people were doing so.
He regretted that despite the presence of a large number of personnel of police, agencies and Rangers, the life and property of the citizens were not safe and people were being killed.
The MQM leader asked the authorities to arrest the culprits involved in killings and expose those who put pressure on law-enforcement agencies to release detained persons.
“Till the improvement in the situation in Karachi, we cannot sit in the house,” he said before leading the walkout.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who was not present in either house of parliament, was the main target of criticism from MQM and ANP legislators who accused him of merely doing lip-service instead of taking practical steps to resolve the issue.
Law Minister Farooq H. Naek assured the senators that he would convey their concern over the Karachi situation and the absence of the interior minister to the prime minister during a meeting of the federal cabinet scheduled for Wednesday.
He, however, avoided responding to the criticism of the PPP governments at the centre and in Sindh.
When ANP’s Senator Ilyas Bilour called for an ‘army action’ in Karachi, terming it the ‘only solution’, PML-N’s Mushahidullah Khan opposed it and said no such operation could succeed till the present government remained at the helm of the affairs.
The PML-N senator expressed surprise over a reported statement of MQM chief Altaf Hussain calling for resignation of the government over its failure to protect the life and property of citizens. He termed the attitude of both the MQM and ANP “non-serious” since both were part of the ruling coalition.
He asked the government to announce the date for elections and said there was no hope that it would be able to resolve the Karachi issue in the remaining three to four months when it had miserably failed to do so over the past four years.
Mushahidullah Khan rejected a perception that Taliban were behind the target and sectarian killings in Karachi. “In fact a civil war is going on in Karachi. The fighting is for land, extortion and political support.”
He said the Supreme Court had already given its verdicts against the two provincial governments (Sindh and Balochistan), but nothing had changed.
Similar views were expressed by PML-N’s Rohail Asghar in the National Assembly after ANP’s Bushra Gohar alleged that the government was not taking necessary steps to bring the situation under control and was creating confusion by giving contradictory statements blaming the Taliban, the third force, invisible forces and sometimes extortionists for the Karachi imbroglio.