KARACHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a high-level meeting on Karachi's security situation at the Governor House on Wednesday after gunmen killed 43 people in an attack on a bus carrying Ismailis.
During the meeting it was decided that the ongoing operation against criminal elements in the city will be sped up, and will be extended to target not only criminal organisations but also their workers and abettors.
The meeting resolved to carry the operation forward with more vigour, intensity and to consolidate the gains that have been made.
The meeting was attended by high-level civil and military officials including army chief General Raheel Sharif, ISI Director General (DG) Rizwan Akhtar, Corps Commander Karachi Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar, Rangers DG Major General Bilal Akbar, Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, federal interior secretary, federal chief secretary, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad and MQM leader Farooq Sattar.
|Sindh CM Qaim Ali Shah (L) and Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad in the meeting.- DawnNews screengrab|
|Army chief General Raheel Sharif during the meeting.- DawnNews screengrab|
During the meeting, Nawaz Sharif said law-enforcement agencies should work in complete coordination with each other to ensure peace in Karachi. The premier said all institutions responsible for countering terrorism should gear up to meet challenges.
"Karachi is the commercial hub of Pakistan; any incident that happens here holds great importance," said Nawaz while speaking at the meeting.
|PM Nawaz Sharif chairing the security meeting in Karachi.- DawnNews screengrab|
“The enemies are not happy with our economic growth. It’s on their agenda to stop development and progress in the country. Therefore, it becomes very important to identify and act against such forces,” he added.
Earlier today, General Raheel Sharif reached Karachi after cancelling his visit to Sri Lanka, following the attack on Ismaili community members in the city.
In a tweet posted earlier on Twitter, ISPR DG Major General Asim Bajwa said that Gen Raheel on Wednesday cancelled his pre-scheduled three-day visit to Sri Lanka in light of the attack in Karachi.
At least 43 persons were killed earlier today when gunmen attacked a bus carrying members of the Ismaili community near Safoora Chowk in Karachi. The attack was claimed by the Jundullah splinter group of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
A look at the Karachi operation
The ‘operation’ against criminal elements in Pakistan’s commercial hub was initiated back in September 2013 after the federal cabinet empowered Rangers to lead a targeted advance with the support of police against criminals already identified by federal military and civilian agencies for their alleged involvement in targeted killings, kidnappings for ransom, extortion and terrorism in Karachi.
At that time, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali had said that some of the cabinet decisions were not being made public because of their sensitivity, but they would be reflected through their implementation.
Explaining the decision to equip Rangers with the power of prosecution and investigation, the minister said Rangers had complained that people arrested for alleged involvement in crimes were freed after some time.
But in July 2014, in what was largely seen as an alignment with the military offensive in North Waziristan, the Rangers-led operation shifted its focus from hit men and extortionists to the more demanding threat from militants.
In a conversation with Dawn last year, DIG-South Abdul Khaliq Shaikh had acknowledged that the Karachi operation had been readjusted to tackle the militant threat.
When Rangers raided Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) headquarters in March 2015, the party alleged the operation had taken on a political colour. But Rangers claimed it had conducted the raid on a tip off that said wanted personnel were present at Nine Zero— the party’s headquarters.
Since then, Rangers DG Maj Gen Bilal Akbar and army chief Gen Raheel have insisted that the operation is not targeted at a particular political party and will meet its logical end.