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BAGH-I-AFZA, located in Azizabad and named after MQM supremo Altaf Hussain’s daughter, may be included in the list of places to be renamed in the city.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
BAGH-I-AFZA, located in Azizabad and named after MQM supremo Altaf Hussain’s daughter, may be included in the list of places to be renamed in the city.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The civil and military leadership of Sindh on Thursday agreed that founding chief of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Altaf Hussain was against the state and did not “deserve any kind of honour or memorial” and decided to rename more than 60 buildings and roads in Karachi dedicated to the London-based leader and his family members, said an official statement.

The fresh “resolve” came at the 22nd Apex Committee meeting, which was presided over by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah. It was attended by provincial ministers Sohail Anwar Siyal, Syed Nasir Shah, Ziaul Hassan Lanjar, Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, Corps Commander of Karachi Lt Gen Shahid Baig Mirza, Pakistan Rangers Sindh director general Maj Gen Mohammad Saeed and senior civil and military officials.

The hours-long meeting took up many agenda items. It took decisions on several and issued directives for others to be looked into their progress at the next meeting of the Apex Committee. The most significant of the decisions emerged about the names of 62 roads, buildings and some institutions attributed to Altaf Hussain and his family members.

“At the meeting it was pointed out that there were still 62 buildings and roads in the city with the name of Altaf Hussain and his family members,” said the statement issued by CM House after the meeting. “The meeting resolved that those who are against the state do not deserve any kind of honour or memorial. The chief minister told the meeting that the cabinet has already taken such a decision. The chief secretary was directed by the Apex Committee to rename the identified buildings and roads.”

Legal reforms to be introduced for speedy trials of street crimes cases

The other agenda items of the meeting, the statement said, included discussion on a draft of madressahs’ law, Karachi Safe City Project, cybercrime, detention powers under the ATA, trial of street crime cases, issues of land grabbing, security of banks, installation of trackers in motorcycles, security audit of shrines, standard registration number plates, operation in the katcha area.

Delayed Safe City Project

The meeting expressed “reservation” over delay in the Safe City Project for Karachi due to recent intervention by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

“The meeting took up the issue of Safe City Project and expressed reservation on its unnecessary delay,” said the statement. “The meeting was told that the project was started with hiring of a consultant but with the start NAB Sindh wrote a letter to the concerned officers. The [cost of] consultancy is Rs40 million, therefore, the concerned officers put the project on the back burner.”

The Apex Committee said that the project was most important and it must be implemented as it had been conceived. At this, the statement said, the chief minister directed the chief secretary to hold a meeting of an IT team and other relevant officers and take NAB into confidence on starting the project afresh.

Street crime cases

The matter of trial of street crime suspects in antiterrorism courts was also taken up at the meeting, but it was pointed out that the judiciary was of the view that such cases could not be tried in the ATCs.

After deliberation and discussion on the subject, the statement said that the chief minister decided to introduce legal reforms in consultation with the Sindh Judicial Academy for speedy trials and conviction in cases of street crimes.

“I want street criminals [to] be dealt [with] severely, we have restored peace in the city with heavy price and now the street criminals would not [be] allowed to keep the citizens harassed, insecure and afraid,” the statement quoted CM Shah as saying. He also directed the law minister to expedite the process of consultation and bring the matter to the cabinet and the assembly.

About the operation against land grabbing, the meeting was told that the exercise was in progress and it was also producing results.

“The land grabbing issue is being watched, dealt [with] and bulldozed,” the statement said, referring to the briefing of the law enforcement agencies’ officials to the members of the committee.

The meeting also decided to launch a targeted operation against criminals and dacoits in the katcha area though it was conditioned with the preparation of the relevant agencies.

The chief minister, the statement said, also decided to revive the border force, which was created with 1,000 constables in 2006 but later merged into the police department. The revival would not affect the merger and the deployment of policemen would be made with the support of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2018