ISLAMABAD - Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has deferred a sit-in in Karachi only for a week against the killing and non-recovery of their missing activists on the assurance of the Sindh government as unsatisfactory response could prompt the party to reverse its decision.
“Adopting a wait-and-see policy, the Muttahida workers will remain silent for around a week on the assurance from Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah. Upon unsatisfactory response, next strategy would be a peaceful sit-in in the biggest city of the country,” said MQM’s newly-appointed parliamentary leader in the National Assembly, Abdur Rashid Godil, in an exclusive interview with The Nation.
He said they were in favour of purging the metropolitan city of criminal elements, but the Karachi operation started around eight months ago had been targeting MQM workers.
“Over 170 political units of MQM have not been operational for the last four months due to violent attacks against our party workers who stick to the philosophy of the party chief, Altaf Hussain,” said Godil in an emotional tone, adding the third largest opposition party in the country had ostensibly not been allowed to carry out activities, but a proscribed organisation was openly operating not only in Karachi but also in the Punjab.
“Albeit we are coalition partners in Sindh, we are not satisfied with the Sindh government on this issue. We have been receiving mutilated bodies of our workers for the last several months, which is intolerable for us,” said the MQM senior lawmaker, sharing his views about the party’s future strategy.
Though the Protection of Pakistan (amendment) Bill did not become a law as it could be not passed by the upper house of the parliament, it was being implemented in Sindh, he regretted.
This bill, passed by the National Assembly with majority votes, was not only against the fundamental rights of the citizens but also continuation of the colonial era, he remarked.
“There is a proper system of judiciary to deal with criminals, but without any proof MQM workers are being kidnapped and killed by unknown people in plain clothes. Who is responsible for our 42 missing workers and over three dozen members killed in the operation,” he said, expressing annoyance over the government’s inaction and silence in this regard. “Why is action not being taken against the kidnappers and killers of MQM workers?” he said.
About MQM’s demand for forming a monitoring committee to oversee the ongoing Karachi operation, Godil said the government has not so far done anything to probe extra-judicial killing of their workers. “I can’t understand what wrong is in forming a committee to resolve the issue of a parliamentary party. It is our democratic right,” he maintained.
About MQM’s concerns conveyed to the interior minister through the National Assembly speaker, he was not satisfied with this move. “Actions speak louder than words. MQM workers are still in a state of fear. I myself have survived three attacks,” said Godil.
“MQM has also registered a strong protest and walkout in the current National Assembly session for its rights. Sense of deprivation is fast developing among the workers,” he maintained.
To a question, he said MQM was part of the Sindh government, but was not satisfied over the matter of the Karachi operation. “Although we are allies, we are not on driving seat,” he said, adding the federal government could also not be excluded from its responsibility.
The MQM leader criticised the role of civil society and human rights organisations for not raising voice against the alleged inhumane, violent and brutal attitude towards their workers. “Human rights organisations raise voice sometimes on minor issues, but they are seemingly indifferent on this matter,” he lamented.
“Karachi is a revenue engine of the country, but the law and order situation needs an immediate action,” he said, adding there was a need to resolve MQM’s issue as early as possible.
It is relevant here that the federal cabinet (in September last year) empowered rangers to lead a targeted operation with the support of police against criminals already identified by military and civil agencies for their alleged involvement in targeted killings, kidnappings for ransom, extortion and terrorism in Karachi.
The party had demanded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif form a judicial commission to investigate extra-judicial killing of MQM workers and constitute a monitoring committee to oversee the ongoing Karachi operation.