KARACHI – The Supreme Court warned Friday that upcoming elections had to be peaceful to be fair, heavily criticising the government and security forces for failing to stop endemic violence in Karachi.
"If your family lives in fear, then how can a fair election be held peacefully, which is a constitutional requirement?" said Khilji Arif Hussain, one of five Supreme Court judges investigating a massive bombing in Karachi.
Sunday's attack killed 50 people in a mainly Shiite area of the country's largest city.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry criticised the authorities for failing to control violent killings in Karachi, where ethnic, political and sectarian tensions led to the deaths of at least 2,000 people last year.
"The authorities should control the militant outfits, there is a turf war here," Chaudhry said, warning that people were being killed with impunity.
"The police force is still highly politicised. There are criminals in the police and if police recruitment is continued to be made on political grounds, it will never improve the law and order."
The city's top administrative official Hashim Raza Zaidi said the government was compensating families of the victims and would take nine months to rebuild buildings destroyed in the blast.
Monitoring adds: During proceedings, Rangers, IB and special branch submitted their reports pertaining to the Abbas Town bombing.
The Supreme Court inquired the Director IB why action was not taken if a report was present, adding that there was a power struggle in the city which had been given the colour of sectarianism.
The acting Inspector General Sindh Police, Ghulam Shabbir Sheikh informed the court that if there was complete deployment at police stations, the situation in the city would improve. The Chief Justice replied to the acting IGP that he had the court’s support and should take whatever steps possible to protect citizens.
The CJ told the DG Rangers maintaining law and order was his responsibility as he had already witnessed the performance of the police. He also asked the DG Rangers what measures had been taken after information had been received regarding the Abbas Town blast on March 4. The DG said an operation had been launched after the blast to arrest the perpetrators.