KARACHI – Interior Minister Rehman Malik Sunday dismissed speculations about a political solution with the members of the banned organisation, Peoples Amn Committee (PAC).
The federal minister who attended a high level meeting on law and order at the Chief Minister House and later visited restive Lyari, told the media there will only be ‘targeted operations in Lyari’. He insisted the police ‘did not lose the battle’ and in fact, it was his initiative to pull out the forces from Lyari in order to foil criminals’ plans to spread terror in the city.
The PAC members, Malik said, ‘could not be called politicians’ and that there was no possibility of drawing them into negotiations. The names of suspects had been added to the exit control list (ECL), he added. “They (suspected criminals) should surrender, prove their innocence and then they will have every right to become politicians.”
Responding to a suggestion given for handing over the criminals to the Punjab police, the interior minister said if they thought such an action would save them, they were mistaken. “The Punjab Police, too, have to work according to the law,” he said, adding that the constitution does not allow one to commit crime in one district and get prosecuted for it in another.
“If they think that with [PML-N chief] Nawaz Sharif’s support they will become leaders or if they think they will be safe under the PML-N umbrella, they are mistaken. If they have committed a crime and are wanted by the police, then law will take its own course,” he said.
PML-N will be making a big blunder by taking Uzair Baloch into its folds, Malik said, adding that there were some sensible people in Nawaz League who would not accept criminals in the party.
The minister said he was widely criticised for the ceasefire, re-positioning the police and giving the miscreants 48 hours to surrender but he did not pay heed to the criticism and that it was ‘tactical repositioning’, the results of this strategy were visible now.
He, however, warned the criminals that they should not be mistaken by the suspension of action and the space given to them (criminals), and that they should not see it as a weakness of the government. The government would never compromise on the writ of law and maintain peace in the city at all cost, he added.
When asked what would happen after the 48-hour deadline was over, he said, “Don’t think that after 48 hours, we will go and attack with guns. I want to give the people of Lyari a feeling of security... I want them to know that if the Rangers and the police are there, they are there to protect them, not to conduct an operation against them.”
About the recently conducted operation, he said it was locally managed police action limited to three streets of Lyari. The police had authentic information that these streets had tuned into a stronghold of the criminals. But, he regretted, a hype was created by certain quarters of media and it was projected as an operation in all of Lyari. “It was not an operation but a targeted police action against criminals,” he remarked adding that however the police action was successful.
Malik said that the government wanted to apologise to the people of Lyari for the problems faced by them during the police action there. But, he pleaded, it was the criminals who had been using sophisticated and heavy arms including rocket launchers in the area and made public movement very difficult. This also badly affected the provision of food, water and health-care.
He said that orders for food supply and resumption of electricity in the neighbourhood had been given and that it will be done within a day or two, adding that authorities concerned would assess the damages caused by the operation and the affected would be compensated.