KARACHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday vowed not to politicise a planned solution to restore peace to Karachi and hoped others would cooperate with the federal government in doing so.
The premier arrived in the provincial capital earlier this morning, a day before he was scheduled to preside over the federal cabinet session on the port city’s deteriorating law and order situation. The crucial session on Wednesday is expected to decide on a planned targeted operation against criminal gangs and armed militias of political groups, whose deadly turf war has ruined peace in the country’s economic hub.
Sharif held a meeting with representatives of all major political parties after arriving in Karachi, including the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Jamaat-i-Islami, Sunni Tehrik and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). The meeting was also attended by Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah and Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ibad.
Speaking at the meeting, Sharif stressed that he had come as the prime minister of the entire country and not just as representative of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N).
“Karachi is the most important city and the economic hub of Pakistan. Unemployment will rise if the unrest in Karachi is not quelled,” he said. “Peace is imperative to bring foreign investment into Pakistan.”
The PM said that his government wished to restore peace to the city, and said he respected the mandates of all political parties. He assured that his administration was ready to extend all support to the Sindh government.
Earlier, the MQM and the federal government appeared to be heading on a collision course after news trickled in that an earlier invitation to MQM leader Farooq Sattar to attend the cabinet meeting on Wednesday had been withdrawn.
At a hurriedly called press conference, the MQM’s Rabita Committee (coordination committee) criticised the government’s decision to withdraw the invitation.
MQM leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said his party was the only party that enjoyed the mandate of the people of Karachi and “Dr Farooq Sattar was invited to the cabinet meeting for the same reason.”
Siddiqui said the Sattar was later offered to meet the prime minister in a one-on-one meeting at 7 pm on Tuesday, but the MQM had rejected the offer. “Dr Sattar has no wishes for photo opportunities with the prime minister and we reject the offer.”