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Coalition parties claimants to targeted killing compensation

February 07, 2012

KARACHI, Feb 7: The parties in the coalition at the centre and in Sindh have all claimed to be at the receiving end of the targeted killings in 2011 that saw Karachi experience one of the worst periods in its violent history since the mid-1980s as the city descended into a free-for-all ethnic and political warfare.

The city only started limping back to normality in August last year after the Supreme Court's suo motu notice on the Karachi bloodshed that also ordered the Sindh government to pay compensation to the heirs of the victims of the violence.

The commission set up by the provincial government for that purpose has so far received claims from 657 families who lost their loved ones in the 2011 killings, which includes 284 workers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Awami National Party (ANP).

Although some 265 claims made by different parties have been declared unverified by police authorities, investigators found that a majority of the claims had merit and forwarded the requests to the commission headed by retired Justice Zahid Qurban Alvi.

"Before formal proceedings began, the commission issued advertisements in all national dailies, requesting families of victims to submit claims for compensation," said an official privy to the proceedings."The commission received a total of 657 claims. All these were forwarded to the police for scrutiny; 392 have been cleared and 265 remain unverified." Dawn

The data obtained by suggests that of the total claims, the Muttahida came up with the highest number - 184 - killed during 2011 on political grounds. Of them, 113 were found true by the police, as the other 71 cases did not meet the criteria set for compensation.

The ANP, another coalition partner, listed a total of 132 workers as having lost their lives in 2011. The criterion for compensation to the heirs of 98 workers has been met, while information about others failed to satisfy the investigators.

Similarly, the PPP claimed compensation for 286 party workers. Police authorities have signed off on the veracity of 73 claims, while the credentials of remaining victims have been declared unverified.

Apart from the coalition partners, families of workers of six other groups, including the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (commonly known as Haqiqi), the community-based group of Lyari and the city's old areas Katchhi Rabta Committee, Sunni Tehrik, Jamaat-i-Islami, Jafria Alliance and Awami Tehrik, have also sought compensation from the government. The nationalist Awami Tehrik emerges as the only party that failed to prove a single case out of total 36 claims.

"We firmly believe that the total number of targeted killing victims is much higher than that claimed by the parties," said the official.

Heirs unaware?

"As we all know, there were a large number of killings last year on ethnic grounds. The families of victims who don't have any political association either deliberately ignored the commission proceedings or were unaware of them."

For many analysts, the higher number of casualties claimed by the parties indicates that political rivalries and a deadly turf war in the city were the major reasons behind last year's bloodshed.

They also see the compensation efforts through the commission for the victims' families as an important move by the authorities.

Officials say the commission set up to recommend compensation for the victims' families is meeting frequently and almost set to recommend compensation for those families which have met the criteria.

"The majority of the claims have been verified and those declared unverified were found not in line with the definition of the targeted killing victims," said Wahab Abbasi, the commission secretary.

"The police found that there were several such applicants whose loved ones were killed due to personal enmity or other reasons but not on political grounds or due to worsening law and order situation last year."

Deadline draws near

The commission had almost done its job, he said, adding that it was set up to complete the job within 90 days which would end on Feb 15.

"We have held total 12 meetings so far and put all efforts to collect the all valid and due information so the people who lost their loved ones could be compensated," he added.