Another arrested target killer with stories of his own against the MQM. The MQM denying all allegations as mere “propaganda” aimed at “maligning the party”. Things aren’t looking good in Karachi as Rangers proceed with their action and do not hesitate from identifying the MQM by its name for being complicit in cases involving target killings, extortion and arson. MQM Chief Altaf Hussain More than anything, the raid on Nine Zero has sent a clear message across Karachi, even the rest of Pakistan for that matter: action may be taken against anyone if the military deems it necessary. A week back most politicians and analysts would have rejected the possibility of a raid on Nine Zero, which is the mecca of the most powerful entity in the megacity. Perhaps no one was as surprised as the MQM itself, which has been taken off guard and seems to be struggling to cope with rapidly changing circumstances.

Is it only the beginning? It is highly likely. The Karachi operation has been going on for more than a year now, but what we’re witnessing now is indicative of shift in gears and complete change in command of the operation. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah finds himself out of the loop as the military leadership is now calling the shots to fix the law and order situation in Karachi and the wider province. It doesn’t make sense for the Rangers to conduct the raid without it being part of a comprehensive plan. Reports suggest that the military has completed its homework, and is now all set to implement its plan. Therefore, the raid on Nine Zero may be the first major action, but it is definitely not the last. And it is not just the MQM that will be targeted, criminals and terrorists affiliated with the ANP, PPP and other parties and religious groups active in Karachi will come under fire as well. They should.

It is unfortunate that the initiative has been taken by the military leadership instead of the parliament, and continues absent any meaningful political ownership. Perhaps the most distressing aspect of this entire episode is that the political oversight will be viewed as political meddling, which regrettably is often the case. Regardless, the PML-N government would do well to own the operation or raise concerns if it has any. It’s job has to be more than just issuing a supportive statement a day after some action has taken place. Most importantly, the accused along with the evidence implicating them should be presented in courts, which would ultimately decide their fate. Military operations in the past are tainted with extrajudicial activities including fake encounters and coercion of suspects. History should not repeat itself.