The recently issued statements by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief, Altaf Hussain, and the subsequent debate on the floor of the National Assembly have brought forward a plethora of concerns for citizens of Karachi.
The ruling party in Sindh, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), instead of giving hope and a plan to stabilise the worsening law and order situation in Karachi, has started pointing towards the 30-year-old violent history of this beautiful port city.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary, while listening to the Karachi unrest case at the Sindh registry of the Supreme Court, commented on the complete failure shown by the law-enforcement agencies and specifically took the DG Rangers, Sindh, to task, who had nothing concrete to say in his defence.
The DG shifted the blame onto political parties with militant wings. The chief justice showed his reservations at this response from the DG, Rangers.
The leader of opposition in the National Assembly, Syed Khurshid Shah, has criticised the MQM demand and has said that the police and Rangers are fully capable of maintaining law and order in the city. If we look at the situation in Karachi, people belonging to the Kutchhi community have been the worst sufferers in recent times. They were not only forced to flee Lyari, but upon their return, were greeted with bullets and rockets by gangsters operating in the area.
The question then arises: are the Rangers capable enough to thwart unrest in Karachi? The Rangers are often mistaken for a military unit. However, a defence analyst recently said on a TV talk show that the Rangers come under the civilian-led government and cannot be considered an equivalent to the Pakistan Army.
In recent times, the powers of Rangers units stationed in Karachi have been curbed to a great extent due to political interference and the taking away of authority from them to make formal arrests and carry out investigations. With their feathers clipped, even the most effective fighting forces become impotent and compromised.
In addition, political postings and out-of-turn promotions have already demoralised able police officers, hence compromising the performance of the police force. The police-led Lyari operation of April 2012 is another bad patch in the history of the Sindh police, where the entire operation had to be called off prematurely due to political intervention and which resulted in the death of some very competent officers.
The stand-off and the following withdrawal demoralised the police to a great extent.
So, how can the army deliver in Karachi? Pakistan Army is a disciplined organisation with a clear chain of command and zero tolerance for traitors and enemies of the state. The Swat operation is an excellent example of how a political government asked the army to help it in flushing out terrorists, which the army did with perfection.
If the army is given full authority and power to complete a task, it goes at full throttle to establish the state's writ. In the case of Karachi, the army should be given full authority to carry out raids, make arrests, try criminals in military courts and dispense speedy justice, which it is fully capable
Karachi has bled badly in the past and now it seems to be surviving on ventilator. The Pakistan Army is the only hope left and if given a chance, it can surely provide relief to Karachiites.