KARACHI: Parties having stakes in Karachi’s politics came up with a strong reaction against Wednesday’s violent police action in Pakistan Quarters, asking the federal government to make serious efforts to resolve the long-standing issue on a permanent basis.

On his part, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who earlier ordered the police to return from the troubled area, has also formed an inquiry committee to investigate the police action against the residents of Pakistan Quarters.

While disgruntled Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leader Dr Farooq Sattar — against whom a rioting case was also registered — was the only politician who remained present at Pakistan Quarters along with protesting residents since morning, other leaders of his party also visited the locality later in the day to express solidarity with the residents.

The Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) also condemned the police action and demanded that the government grant ownership rights to the residents of the government quarters.

Farooq Sattar booked for rioting; CM orders probe into police action

However, mixed reaction came from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf as some of its leaders supported the police action and stressed the need for vacating government properties from occupants. But, Governor Imran Ismail of the same party is said to have played a key role in getting temporary relief for the protesting residents.

Murad wants alternative arrangements

Speaking to reporters at the head office of the Saylani Welfare Trust in Bahadurabad, CM Shah said Pakistan Quarters was a very old settlement and people were living there since long.

He said that before forcing the residents to vacate their quarters, the federal government should have made alternative arrangements for them.

He said that an operation was launched against the residents of Pakistan Quarters to evacuate them on the directives of the apex court and under its supervision.

“When I saw it [operation] was turning violent I had intervened and directed the Karachi police chief to withdraw the police immediately,” he said, adding that had he not intervened it would have created a law and order situation.

“Karachi is a very sensitive city and you have to be careful in handling the situation,” he said.

MQM-P demands ownership rights

Speaking at a press conference, senior MQM-P leader Amir Khan said that there would be no harm if the federal government gave allotment orders to “a few hundred people” and included their houses in its programme to build five million houses across the country.

Accompanied by party leaders Faisal Subzwari and Khwaja Izharul Hasan, Mr Khan said that there were thousands of illegal settlements in the country but no one was evicted from these; only residents of some settlements in Karachi were being targeted.

Expressing gratitude to Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar for suspending implementation on the apex court’s Oct 4 order, he asked the CJ to review his decision on humanitarian grounds to save thousands of people from becoming homeless.

The leaders also demanded that the federal and provincial governments grant ownership rights to the residents of Pakistan Quarters, Martin Quarters, Jahangir Road, F.C. Area, etc.

Meanwhile, Dr Farooq Sattar saw a conspiracy behind the police action and said that he would not allow “the builder mafia” to displace residents.

Condemning the police action, he said Prime Minister Imran Khan should think whether it was a conspiracy against his party that the police targeted innocent residents without any provocation.

JI reminds PTI, MQM-P of election promise

City chief of the JI Hafiz Naeemur Rahman demanded a permanent solution by granting ownership right to residents of Pakistan Quarters and other government quarters.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, he said that both the PTI and MQM-P during their election campaigns promised the residents that their long-standing issue would be resolved.

“Now both the parties are ruling at the Centre so it is their responsibility to not neglect the issue and resolve it on a permanent basis,” he said.

He also asked PM Imran Khan to include these houses in his mega housing scheme.

PSP condemns police action

Condemning the police action against protesters, including women, children and the elderly, PSP secretary general Raza Haroon also demanded the federal government to play its role in solving the issue of residents of Pakistan Quarters.

In a statement, he said why no such action had been taken against those who occupied thousands of acres land in different parts of Karachi.

The attitude of the state towards the residents of Pakistan Quarters is inhumane and undemocratic, he said, adding: “The rulers should save innocent citizens from becoming homeless.”

Sattar booked for rioting

Police on Wednesday registered a case against MQM-P’s Dr Sattar and many others in connection with the violent protest in Pakistan Quarters.

Jamshed Town SP Shamyl Riaz Malik said that the case had been registered against Dr Sattar on charges of rioting since he was present at the scene.

He said 13 held protesters along with 300 to 400 unknown protesters were nominated in the FIR.

The police case was registered despite the fact that the Sindh CM had formed an inquiry committee to investigate Wednesday’s episode.

Chief Minister’s Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab disclosed this while talking to reporters here. He said that the chief minister took notice of the incident immediately and ordered the police to stop baton-charge.—Habib Khan Ghori contributed to this report.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2018

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