President Asif Zardari has fixed the law and order situation in Karachi as the first priority of the Sindh government. He said this while meeting Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and his cabinet on Friday, after they took oath. It should be seen more as an instruction rather than a pious wish, but because Sindh is not just the President’s home province, but also because Syed Qaim Ali Shah’s retention of his post was approved by the President as the result of his having been head of the PPP. Though the President has given up party office, Sindh was the only province where the PPP retained office, losing heavily in the centre as well as KPK and Balochistan.Syed Qaim Ali Shah has formed the government for the third time, but for the first time without the MQM as a coalition partner. This should not become an excuse not to deal with the law and order problem of Karachi, where the recent killing of a doctor and his sons has sent a wave of panic throughout the city. In fact, in view of the accusationsswirling around, the MQM’s being in the opposition might well be an advantage. It should soon become clear who helps target killers and other criminals get out of custody. In this respect, the PPP should not allow criminals to misuse its name when arrested, and anyone trying such a trick should receive condign punishment. The government must also not hide behind the excuse that extremists have invaded Karachi, or that the central government is in any way stopping it. Karachi is too big a city for any central government to ignore its law and order situation, especially a government which plans to oversee an economic revival. Mian Nawaz Sharif has shown in his previous tenures the ability to remove his own party from office over the peace of Karachi. The Qaim government should not presume too much. It should be noted that President Zardari spoke approvingly of the current operation, which is being carried out by the Rangers and said that the operation should continue. The kind of peace it has brought has been seen before, and could well break down again. To avoid that, it is essential that those responsible for the target killings, the extortion racket and the other criminal activities plaguing the city, are not just caught, but also brought to trial and convicted, for itis only their punishment that will act as a deterrent. Qaim Ali Shah did not succeed in ending the problem, but this time not only is his government the centrepiece of PPP governance, but he has no provincial allies to please. This time, if he does not succeed, history will not forgive him.