KARACHI, Feb 14: Amid frequent killings in the city, a rare in-camera briefing in the Sindh Assembly on the law and order situation by top police officials was boycotted on Thursday by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement to protest what it described as ‘a government move to withdraw cases against a number of Lyari people’ despite the outright rejection of any such decision by the information minister.

MQM lawmakers staged a walkout from the assembly hall where the briefing was arranged, and threatened that the party would not have any electoral alliance with the Pakistan People’s Party in the elections if the latter continued to patronise what the MQM termed terrorists.

However, Information Minister Sharjeel Memon denied any such move and said had any such decision been taken, the MQM, being a coalition partner, would have been taken on board.

The house had decided on Monday to have an in-camera briefing followed by a debate on the law and order situation to know its causes and who was conspiring against democracy and why.

Sindh Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmad, who is also a member of the MQM coordination committee, talking to media persons on the main entrance of the assembly building after staging a walkout along with other MQM lawmakers, said that cases were withdrawn to hide the crimes of ‘notorious terrorists of Lyari gang warfare’. They included those involved in slitting throats of people and filming the barbaric acts, he said.

He said they were responsible for targeting political, economic and social activities of Karachi but it appeared that the government was protecting them.

The protesting lawmakers said a letter had been written by the law department for withdrawal of cases against a number of people belonging to Lyari.

He threatened that the MQM would part its ways with the PPP and field its candidates in the election on its own throughout the country if action was not taken against the criminals and the president and the federal law minister did not take its notice.

In reply to a question, the minister said that the MQM coordination committees in Karachi and London were in session and whatever decision was taken would be communicated to the people accordingly.

He said that the MQM passed the past five years giving sacrifices for the sake of democracy. “If our attitude of reconciliation is responded by a conspiracy, the government will be responsible for all the consequences,” he added.

Following the in-camera briefing, Information Minister Sharjeel Memon told the media that talks about withdrawal of cases were no more than mere speculation.

“The MQM was our ally and their leaders’ statement is based on misunderstanding, which can be removed,” said the minister.

In reply to a question, he said the police officials during the briefing replied to the reservations expressed by some lawmakers. He added that the suggestions that required legislation would be taken care of by the government.

‘No directive received for cases withdrawal’ When asked about the withdrawal of the cases, special public prosecutor at the anti-terrorism court-III Abdul Maroof told Dawn that no directives had so far been received from the government regarding withdrawal of cases against the leadership of the People’s Amn Committee.

The trial of around 35 cases lodged against the head of the proscribed committee Uzair Jan Baloch and dozens of others associated, said to be affiliated with PAC and Lyari gang warfare, for allegedly putting up resistance during an operation conducted in Lyari in April-May last year by allegedly killing police personnel and civilian, was pending before the anti-terrorism court-III.

The special public prosecutor said that he had yet to receive any direction from the department concerned about the withdrawal of the cases.

Court sources said that no notification about withdrawal of cases was submitted in court till Wednesday. Usually such documents were filed through the prosecutor, they added.

It’s worth noting here that out of around 35 cases, 13 cases were lodged under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code and if the government indeed planned to withdraw the cases, it had to take a prior permission from legal heirs of the deceased in the cases involving Qisas and Diyat.Legal experts believed that the state could withdraw any case at any stage under Section 494 of the criminal procedure code, but could not drop murder charges without seeking permission from the families of the victims.

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