Mr Gilani said he was aware of statements being made by different quarters for deployment of army in Karachi. — File Photo

 

LAHORE: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is of the opinion that a military action in Karachi is not a solution to the law and order problem in the city and says that the issue can be resolved with the “optimal use of police and Rangers”.

Talking to reporters here on Sunday, he said that the security forces could be strengthened to do the job.

He also said that a formal request by a provincial government was needed to deploy army for helping the civil administration.

“Army can be called in Karachi only at the request of the provincial government. The federal government will provide all possible assistance to the provincial government in this regard,” the prime minister said.

Mr Gilani said he was aware of statements being made by different quarters for deployment of army in Karachi.

He also referred to a recent statement by Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who expressed concern over the Karachi situation and said that the army was waiting for a signal from the government to help the administration.

Replying to a question, Mr Gilani admitted that the morale of the Rangers was low because of some recent incidents, but said “they are patriotic and performing their duties diligently”.

He pledged to bring to justice the elements involved in violence in Karachi, irrespective of their party affiliation.

He said all political forces would have to sit together to find a solution to the issue but did not say if the government planned to take any step in that direction.

The prime minister said he had no objection to an in-camera briefing for parliamentarians on the culprits behind the violence but such a session would be arranged only if the parties having representation in parliament so desired.

However, he said the Defence Committee of the Cabinet was the appropriate forum to take up such issues and it had already been briefed on the situation.

Commenting on PML-N chief Nawaz Sahrif’s call for mid-term polls, he said the government had presented its fourth budget and now the call for ‘mid-term polls’ was no more relevant.

He argued that no other major party had come up with a call for fresh elections.

The prime minister said there was no guarantee that new polls would solve all problems overnight and that the ‘new opposition’ would not call for mid-term polls.

He said he had never said that his government would complete its term. “I always stated that parliament should complete its constitutional tenure.”

The prime minister claimed the government had implemented all court orders in letter and spirit.

He said the president would consult him and the leader of opposition on the appointment of the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau.

Replying to a question about negotiations between the government and the MQM, he said: “The priority at this stage is to engage the MQM for improving the law and order situation in Karachi and not to persuade them to rejoin the ruling coalition in Sindh.”

“The MQM people have been good companions of the government in the past and we will welcome them back into the fold,” he said.

He recalled that it was MQM chief Altaf Husain who had proposed the name of Asif Ali Zardari for the post of president.