THE US State Department has categorically said that lethal supplies, including weapons and ammunition meant for Isaf, the Nato-led force in Afghanistan, are not transported from the Karachi port, indicating that the facility is used only to bring in non-lethal supplies.
The same clarification had been issued in September 2013 by the US embassy, when the case regarding stolen containers carrying lethal supplies meant for Nato forces was being heard by the Supreme Court and there was much comment in the media.
Given two clear statements to the effect that lethal supplies like guns and ammunition are not transported from the port, what do we make of the Rangers’ claims, following Wednesday’s raid on the MQM headquarters in Karachi, that a large cache of weaponry and ammunition was discovered on the premises, and must have come from stolen containers carrying Nato supplies?
Footage of the weapons and the ammunition was released to the media. Some of the arms appeared to have been stored in cardboard boxes sealed with masking tape. The footage seems to confirm that these weapons and ammunition were indeed present, but questions still linger as to how they got there in the first place.
If Nato supplies that arrive in Karachi port do not contain weapons, as the US government has indicated, then where did this cache come from?
The MQM claims that it was planted, although as yet there is not much to suggest that this was the case.
Meanwhile, the Rangers’ version too appears debatable in light of the State Department’s consistent claim. What we are left with is a mystery that has persisted for a long time now.
Both the Rangers and the MQM need to provide answers to the natural questions that arise about the presence of these weapons in the party’s headquarters.
The Rangers must back up their allegation with facts and figures and make clear how they arrived at this conclusion, while the MQM, that is often accused of employing strong-arm tactics in urban Sindh, also has a lot of explaining to do.
The case should be thoroughly investigated to get to the root of the matter and to prosecute those suspected of having committed crimes.
But attempts to sensationalise the issue and make allegations without evidence will only create confusion and detract from the effort to nab suspected militants, whether they belong to a religiously motivated, political or ethnic group.
Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2015