KARACHI/ ISLAMABAD: After a daylong visit President Asif Ali Zardari returned to Karachi from Iran and held meetings with officials on violence in Karachi and deteriorating law and order situation.
He expressed concern over the continuation of violence in the city and directed the Sindh home minister to take effective steps to quell violence.
According to official sources, the president asked the minister, Mr Manzoor Wasan, to take all possible measures to restore peace.
At a meeting at the Bilawal House, the home minister briefed the president on the security situation since the deployment of Rangers to clear the Kati Pahari area of gunmen and to evacuate the families trapped in that area.
Mr Wasan also informed the president about the killing of Amir Shah, President of the PIA Union, who was gunned down in Karachi on Saturday, the ensuing protests and weekend clashes between estranged communities in Mauripur area.
He said that Amir Shah appeared to be a victim of target killing and a report would soon be available to the government and the culprits would be traced.
About the violence on Mauripur Road, the president asked the home minister to resolve the issue by Monday and persuade the communities to bury the hatchet and live together peacefully.
Mr Wasan told reporters that law and order was the prime concern of the president and he had assured him that he would establish the writ of the government in cooperation with all stakeholders.
The home minister said he would try to take on board all the forces but needed some time to deal with the problem.
Mr Wasan said the president stressed the need for capacity building of law-enforcement agencies and assured him that better equipment would be acquired to deal with the menace of terrorism and meet the challenge of law and order.
Sources in the presidency said the president condemned the assassination of Amir Shah and urged workers to show restraint.
He termed the murder as shocking and asked the provincial authorities to use all resources to arrest the assailants. He conveyed his deep grief and sorrow to the bereaved family.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rehman Malik gave a new twist to the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi as he said Israel-made weapons had been recovered from trouble-makers in the city.
He told reporters before his departure for Karachi from Islamabad that some external hands were involved in the unrest.
“Weapons are being brought to Karachi from abroad,” he said.
Not only weapons, the minister said, even target killers also were coming from outside. “Steps are being taken to tackle the situation,” he said without elaborating.
He claimed that the law and order situation in Karachi would be brought under control soon despite the fact that incidents of target killings are still being reported from different areas.
“President Zardari has ordered that peace should be restored in Karachi at any cost,” he said.
The minister also indicated that there was a breakthrough in PPP-MQM relations, saying: “The MQM is still with us because the separation is temporary.”
Commenting on the role played by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the minister said the PML-Q chief was continuing his talks with the MQM on behalf of the PPP.
Mr Malik said the PPP-MQM coalition was necessary for peace in Karachi, adding that he hoped the MQM would revise its decision and rejoin the government soon.
“Doors of our party will always remain open. The president has welcomed the statement of Altaf Hussain and tension between PPP and MQM will end soon,” he said.
Responding to a question about PML-N workers who forcibly freed MNA Anjum Aqeel from police custody on Friday, the minister said: “PML-N workers consider Islamabad as Faisalabad and use weapons.”
He said the government would never forgive those who violate laws of the land. “We will make public the inquiry report being prepared on his escape from police custody,” he said.
Replying to a question about Zafar Qureshi, the former Additional Director of Federal Investigation Agency, he said the action taken by the government against him was legal.