The first official diagnosis, prognosis and prescription on the highly destabilising target killings in Karachi is now available as a seven-member high-level official committee has prepared its report blaming political parties and naming only the MQM which it says has a militant wing which is tasked to create law and order situations to achieve its political ends.
For the first time all the security agencies in Karachi have collectively pinpointed the problems and have admitted that as many as 83 police officers involved in earlier operations against MQM have been eliminated in target killings, which has adversely affected the morale of police force.
The report ordered by the Interior Ministry was prepared by a committee which had all the official security stakeholders in Karachi, including the Sindh Police, Special Branch, IB, ISI, Rangers and the Interior Ministry.
It is now said to be lying with the prime minister for action but its recommendations are almost impossible to implement, including de-weaponisation of Karachi, registration of all aliens, insulation of police from political influence and others.
A security expert said it is for the first time a comprehensive picture, and a blunt one, has been presented by the report but whether any action can be taken is a big question mark.
Federal Interior Secretary, Chaudhry Qamar Zaman, confirmed to The News that the report was ready but said he had not seen any follow-up as yet, saying the interior minister has gone to Karachi to find a way out in the wake of the current spate of target killings.
MQM’s parliamentary leader, Dr Farooq Sattar, rejected the party’s involvement in target killings. As far the killings of police officers involved in Karachi operation, he said this issue needed separate treatment and a comparison should be drawn between the number of casualties the party suffered in that operation and the police killings later on.
To be fair to all parties the entire text of the three-page report is being reproduced below. The copy available with The News has been doctored by our sources to the extent that the dates, file numbers and signatures of the members have been deleted. The text is, however, complete with recommendations:
Subject: Report on Target killings in Karachi
1. Minister for interior constituted a committee under the additional secretary, Ministry of Interior consisting of members from Sindh Police, Special Branch, IB, ISI and Rangers to identify target killings which took place during the last six months in Karachi and investigate into the circumstances with a view to find its solution.
2. The committee invited affectees of target killings. The members of the committee assembled at NCMC office, Karachi and interviewed scores of affectees, interested groups and NGOs etc, home secretary, Sindh, DG Rangers, Sindh, IG Police Sindh, CCPO Karachi were also interviewed to assess the situation.
3. Politically motivated target killing in Karachi appeared in 90’s when MQM Haqiqi parted its ways with MQM Altaf and continues to stall the landscape of Karachi with varying intensity to date. It is a turf war going on amongst political groups to have their say in the affairs of Karachi. MQM has won 17 out of 20 NA seats in Karachi and wants to keep its hold. ANP has for the first time won two provincial seats in Pakhtun dominated areas and wants to consolidate gains. Lyari Town with its Baloch population is a stronghold of PPP. Migration from Swat/Fata to Karachi is a cause of concern for the dominant ethnic group in Karachi. MQM is trying to expand its influence in Rehmanabad, Junejo Town, Khuda ki Basti, Gutter Bagheecha etc in non-Urdu speaking population by bringing in new settlement of Urdu speaking people in these areas. This is creating resentment in Pakhtuns and Balochs who feel that they will lose their electoral strength due to change in demography. New settlements also attract land mafia which further complicates the situation.
4. Eighty-three police officers involved in earlier operations against MQM have been eliminated in target killing which has adversely affected the morale of police force.
5. Political parties, specially the MQM, has its militant wing which at times is tasked to create law and order situation for achieving political ends.
6. Following proposals are formulated by the committee to address the situation in Karachi:
a) Conference of all stakeholders in Karachi to work out code of ethics for mutual co-existence.
b) Formation of peace committee at provincial/zonal level headed by senior officers for identifying trouble spots in the respective areas and to address the issue before it flares up. Committees can be expanded to police station level.
c) Merit-based policing with institutional arrangements to insulate police from extraneous influence and its capacity building.
d) Media may be involved to highlight the suffering of families of the victims of target killing and to expose the elements involved in it.
e) Strict ban on conversion of amenity plots for residential purposes and removal of all illegal encroachments.
f) Registration of aliens.
g) De-weaponisation of Karachi.
While the MQM was singled out in the report for having militant wings which were used at times, Dr Farooq Sattar vehemently denied it.
When asked by The News as to why the representatives of these agencies had highlighted the MQM’s involvement in target killing more than land mafia, Farooq Sattar said it could be an effort to distract attention from the land mafia.
He said the MQM has lost 140 workers in target killings in the space of one year. He said the Sindh chief minister has formed a law and order committee with representatives of all ethnic groups as its members. The committee would jointly work with anti-encroachment cell and meet every fortnightly to review the situation.
Another MQM leader, who requested not to be named, termed the allegations against the party in the report as totally baseless and having no link with reality. He said efforts to blackmail MQM were made in every period. The successive governments, however, made alliances with the MQM that proved that the party had no role in killings, he asserted.