ISLAMABAD: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a major opposition party in the National Assembly having an electoral mandate from Karachi, on Tuesday called upon the government to invoke Article 245 of the Constitution for handling the prevailing law and order situation in the city.
“The situation in Karachi is worsening. Killings, robberies, kidnappings for ransom and other crimes have paralysed the city. Criminals are being patronised and the situation has gone beyond control,” claimed Dr Farooq Sattar, MQM’s parliamentary leader in lower house of the parliament.
The statement came in the wake of MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s demand of handing over Karachi to Pakistani armed forces earlier in the day.
In a statement issued from London, Hussain said the situation of Karachi was worsening day by day and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should hand over responsibilities of the city to army personnel.
“Apparently being an undemocratic demand, invoking Article 245 has become imperative as nothing is more important than lives and property of citizens,” said Sattar in the National Assembly.
Article 245 of the Constitution says, “The Armed Forces shall, under the directions of the Federal Government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so.”
It further says, “The validity of any direction issued by the Federal Government under clause (1), shall not be called in question in any Court.”
Farooq Sattar called upon the federal government to take notice of the situation, which he said was normal three days before the by-election, but killings and other crimes gripped the city from the very next day.
Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi contested the demand, saying that the current situation in Karachi was worrying, however, invoking Article 245 was not the right course to take.
He demanded the government to take the opposition into confidence and update the house on measures being taken to maintain law and order in the port city, which is considered financial hub of the country.
Syed Naveed Qamar of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) said there could be other ways to tackle the situation than invoking Article 245.
“We invite the MQM to sit with us and discuss measures to improve law and order as they evolved consensus with us on the Local Government Law,” he stated.
Leader of the Opposition Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah went a step ahead and invited the MQM to join the Sindh government. He, however, described the demand of Farooq Sattar as “undemocratic”.
Invoking Article 245, Shah said, would “not only be an undemocratic decision but also a political blunder. We do not know where this conspiracy has been hatched.”
He added that the MQM was partially a part of the government as they had their governor in Sindh province. “And if they demand so, they should first leave the office of the governor.”
Replying to the points raised by the PPP, MQM's Nabeel Gabol said the PPP itself had taken such decisions in the past when its governments had imposed governor's rule in provinces in 1997 and 2009 and slapped curfew in Karachi in 1974.