ISLAMABAD - Political and military leadership of the country held a detailed meeting here on Monday under the chair of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to spruce up the government strategy to handle the precarious law and order situation in Karachi.
It was decided to defer for a day the Tuesday’s special meeting of the federal cabinet as PM Nawaz wanted to have input from political stakeholders as well as from the army and other federal agencies before making a final decision.
Federal Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan gave a detailed briefing to the Premier on the issue while ISI DG Lt-Gen Muhammad Zaheerul Islam also give the input in the light of the intelligence reports about the port city.
Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi were also present in the meeting, which remained in session for well over two hours. Among other things, the meeting brought up issues related to national security, including internal and external threats faced by Pakistan.
Sources aware of the deliberations of the meeting informed The Nation that it was decided in the meeting that Sindh government would be given the lead role in handling the issue while all the federal agencies, including the intelligence agencies would be at the disposal of the Sindh chief minister.
It was further decided that instead of going for a full-fledged army operation, targeted operations would be carried out in the city to clear it from criminals, particularly those involved in target killings, extortion and other crimes of heinous nature. Particularly, the army top-brass was of the view that instead of calling in armed forces in the port city, Rangers and other law enforcement agencies should be strengthened to crack down on the criminals.
According to a press release issued by the PM’s media section, the prime minister during Monday’s meeting said that national security is the top most priority of the present government and all resources would be utilised to ensure it. He said that all political forces must rise to the occasion so that national consensus is evolved to address the problems faced by the country. He added that broad based national consensus among all stakeholders would surely “enable us to find enduring solutions to our problems”.
Premier Nawaz said the federal government would extend every possible assistance to Sindh government for restoration of peace in Karachi. Nawaz directed the interior minister to finalise proposals to be presented in the forthcoming federal cabinet meeting on Karachi so that a comprehensive strategy could be evolved to improve the situation in the city.
The meeting however decided that the final decision on targeted operation or army operation would be taken after taking input from the political stakeholders of Karachi for which Premier Nawaz would be moving there today (Tuesday) so that he could meet them ahead of Wednesday’s special cabinet meeting. The PM would likely meet Sindh governor on his arrival in the port city today while he may also have consultative meetings with Rangers chief, Intelligence Bureau officials and the leaders of some major political parties.
In the federal cabinet’s meeting, to be held tomorrow at Governor House, the interior ministry will submit its report on law and order situation and furnish recommendations for the restoration of peace in Karachi. The prime minister will take the political parties into confidence on Karachi situation and seek their support for maintenance of law and order there, according to sources.
Separately, talking to Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Maalik and chief of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Mehmoud Khan Achakzai who called on him in Islamabad on Monday, the prime minister said that government would take on board all political parties for political stability and development in Balochistan.
Matters relating to cabinet formation and law and order in the province also came under discussion during the meeting. The chief minister briefed the prime minister regarding action taken to curb the menace of terrorism and protection of the people. The prime minister said every possible assistance to be extended to Balochistan government for maintenance of law and order and rapid development of the province.
On the other hand, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Monday re-submitted its requisition to call a session of the Sindh Assembly to discuss Karachi law and order. MQM previously requested for a session on August 28 but Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani rejected it saying that some of the signatures on the requisition did not appear to be consistent.
MQM then resubmitted its request to Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza, who said the requisition will be checked for its legality. MQM senior leader Syed Sardar Ahmad said that the speaker had reservations with the earlier requisition but a session should be called within 14 days. MQM leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan said a session needed to be called to inform the citizens of Karachi about steps being taken to curb terrorism.
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