Karachi unrest: SC summons reports from Rangers, AG

Published August 28, 2013
A view of the Supreme Court of Pakistan - File Photo
A view of the Supreme Court of Pakistan - File Photo

KARACHI: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday held the law-enforcement authorities responsible for the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi, amid calls from political parties for deployment of military troops in the metropolis.

At least seven more people were reported dead in violent incidents on Wednesday, with three others severely injured.

Taking notice of the worsening situation, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also summoned a special meeting of the federal cabinet to be attended by the Sindh governor and chief minister, and representatives of the law-enforcement agencies.

A larger bench of the apex court resumed hearing of the case pertaining to implementation of its 2011 order in a suo motu notice over the security situation in the city.

The court has been directing the federal and provincial authorities to take effective measures to bring the senseless killing in the city to a stop since its verdict, but apparently in vain as the security situation remains a big question mark on the efficiency and performance of the provincial government and the law-enforcement agencies.

During the hearing, Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Chaudhry demanded to know how the citizens could be protected when the forces could not protect themselves.

Summoned by the court, DG Sindh Rangers Rizwan Akhtar blamed the unrest on armed wings of political parties, which he said were on a killing spree. He said it was necessary to eliminate these for peace in the city.

Akhtar told the court that the Rangers had limited powers. They could arrest criminals, but not investigate the crimes properly. He added that those arrested were soon bailed out of prison.

“In the past ten months, 28 Rangers personnel have been killed and 55 seriously injured in clashes,” he said.

The Supreme Court ordered the submission of two years’ worth of correspondence between executives of both the federal and provincial governments in the next hearing. Attorney General Munir A Malik has also been summoned to court.

Expressing his extreme displeasure and dissatisfaction over the conduct of the provincial authorities and the law-enforcement agencies, the chief justice adjourned the hearing until Thursday.

Karachi is home to multiple conflicts that frequently turn violent, including turf wars between armed gangs and ethnic and political rivalries. Militants are also said to use the city as a source of funds obtained through bank heists, extortion and kidnapping for ransom.

The most recent spate of violence in the provincial capital appears to stem from fighting between rival armed groups in Karachi’s old city areas including Lyari, where hundreds of members of the Kutchhi community have been forced to flee the chaos.

Over a dozen people were injured and at least four people killed by gunshots on Tuesday in the city, which is regarded as Pakistan’s business hub. Three tortured and bullet-riddled bodies were found in different areas of Lyari. Seven more people were reported dead on Wednesday in similar incidents, with three others severely injured.

In a tumultuous National Assembly session on Tuesday, the opposition Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the largest political party in Karachi, demanded that the violence plagued city be handed over to the army to “act in aid of civil power”, according to Article 245(1) of the Constitution.

However, most parties in the National Assembly rejected the MQM’s call as “undemocratic” and akin to imposing martial law in the Sindh provincial capital.

Although the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) also opposed MQM;s stance in parliament, PM Nawaz Sharif has called a special meeting of the federal cabinet to focus on the situation in Karachi.

The session, to be held in Karachi on Sept 3 next week, will also be attended by Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah, Governor of Sindh, Dr. Ishrat ul Ibad, DG Sindh Rangers, DG Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and DG Intelligence Bureau (IB).

Also on Wednesday, the prime minister met with Farooq Sattar, the MQM’s parliamentary leader in the lower house. Sources say the MQM’s demand of calling in military troops may be considered during next week’s special session.

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