KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari ordered indiscriminate targeted action against criminals on Monday and said that the menace of lawlessness and target killings in Karachi could be eradicated only if the PPP, MQM and ANP joined hands.
“If the three political parties — the PPP, MQM and ANP — join hands in Karachi, there is no reason why we cannot confront and defeat the menace of lawlessness and targeted killings in the metropolis,” he said during a meeting with representatives of the coalition parties at Bilawal House.
Leader of the MQM and ANP expressed serious concern over the killings and said criminals were not being patronised by them. The PPP also expressed concern over killing of its activists and the law and order situation.
Restoring peace in Karachi has turned out to be the most challenging task for the government and law-enforcement personnel, with coalition partners accusing each other of attacking their activists and supporters. Observers feel that there may be a pause in violence as a result of the meeting but the situation may not change for the better unless all sides agree to end the so-called turf war and separate politics from violence.
In view of the gravity of the situation and continuing bloodletting and other crimes, President Zardari called for setting up a peace coordination committee comprising representatives of the three parties to maintain constant liaison with the Sindh chief minister and home minister and remove any misgiving about operations against law breakers, extortionists and target killers.
According to officials, President Zardari directed law-enforcement agencies to go after criminals and bring them to justice. He said those apprehended must be identified and their political links and other details should be made known through the media.
According to his spokesman Farhatullah Babar, the president emphasised that it was the joint responsibility of all political parties to help completely restore order in the city and bring culprits to book.
The president said lives and property of the citizens must be protected and strict action should be taken against violators of law without any consideration.
President Zardari said criminals should be identified and indiscriminate action should be taken against them.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Home Minister Manzoor Wasan briefed the meeting on the law and order situation in the city.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Malik said all parties had agreed that indiscriminate action should be taken against elements destroying peace in the city.
Earlier on his arrival in city, the minister said activists of the PPP, MQM, ANP and several other parties were involved in the crime of extortion in Orangi Town.
About Lyari, he said that those who hurled grenades at police would face action.
He said none of the political parties supported extortionists and target killers and they assured that there would be no political interference in the operations.
The home minister said every party supported a fair and independent operation against criminals but problems arose when an operation was launched and people were apprehended.
He said it had been decided that the powers of police, Rangers and Frontier Constabulary would be enhanced.
Although the MQM did not go public about suggestions it put forward at the meeting, sources said it expressed serious concerns over political patronage of criminal elements and called for ruthless action against them.
The party’s delegation is also reported to have raised the issue of local government.
Provincial ANP chief Senator Shahi Syed said the situation would improve if top police posts were filled without any political consideration.
“We belong here and want peace at all costs,” he said.