KARACHI: The federal interior minister took a cue from the Sindh home minister on Thursday by distancing himself from the operation carried out by the Rangers in Karachi earlier during the week.
Zulfikar Mirza, the provincial home minister, had made a baffling disclosure in a television interview the previous day that neither the chief minister nor he was “taken on board” before the crackdown in the city on Tuesday.
Mr Mirza repeated the claim in a statement in the Sindh Assembly and during a meeting at the Chief Minister’s House on Thursday.
“Although the notification regarding the authority divested to Rangers bore my signature, I did not sign any such document. If required, I can take back the notification any time as no operation can be carried out without my consent,” the minister said in reply to a question in the provincial legislature.
Rehman Malik, the federal interior minister, heightened the mystification when in reply to questions by journalists at Karachi airport about the operation, he said he had no “prior knowledge” and conceded that it was an “administrative lapse”.
At the same time, however, Mr Malik took the trouble to emphasise that Rangers had the ‘authority’ to launch the operation.
CONFERENCE The Sindh government decided on Thursday to convene a multi-party conference on Jan 25 to deliberate on the Karachi situation.
The decision was taken at a meeting at the Chief Minister’s House. Rehman Malik and Zulfikar Mirza attended the meeting.
The conference will discuss all aspects related to the strife and suggest ways and means for bringing about a reconciliation.
According to sources, Mr Mirza lived up to his billing as a man who thinks aloud. He said it was a shame that the home minister learnt about the operation through media, contending that paramilitary forces were bound by law to work on the advice of the provincial government.
According to the sources, the participants expressed “satisfaction on measures so far adopted (to restore normality) and the results being achieved”.
The meeting reviewed the decisions and actions already taken to defuse tensions and combat “criminals, terrorists and anti-state elements”.
Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and the home minister lauded the assistance being extended by the federal government for quelling the unrest. A special word of praise was offered for Rehman Malik.
It was also decided that the chief minister, the interior minister and the Sindh home minister would meet once every fortnight to coordinate between Islamabad and the provincial government on measures for peace in Karachi.
The meeting praised police, Rangers and the interior ministry for efforts to “crush criminals and anti-social elements”.