The PPP is finding that there is no easy solution to the problems caused by its own insouciance. At the same time, as it is confronted by the disturbances caused by the violence in Karachi, it has had to put Gilgit under curfew and later, as the situation did not come under control, hand it over to the army. Though Gilgit does not compare with Karachi, which is a provincial capital, it is the capital of the Federally Administered Northern Areas, which have internal self-government, and a PPP government. Though the PPP has been shut out of Karachi (and other urban areas of the province) by the MQM, it has included it in the coalition it has formed. However, the epicentre of the current trouble is Lyari, the PPP’s stronghold in the city. In battles with the police, six people were killed on Monday, as the PPP-backed People's Aman Committee fought with the police after a crackdown on protection rackets. The protection rackets were widely rumoured to have political backing, and had resurfaced after having been eliminated temporarily.

However, the PPP should note that law and order, which is quintessentially a provincial subject, is falling apart wherever it rules. It is also a partner in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa coalition, and heads the Balochistan coalition, and it might be relieved that those two provinces do not pose problems of their own. However, because the brunt of the war on terror mainly falls on them, it cannot be said that the PPP has given those provinces peace. In fact, they indicate where the PPP’s main problem lies: its inability to get rid of entangling commitments in relationships. It must give up the alliance with the USA if it hopes to bring peace to those two provinces, and it must end its support for particular parties in Gilgit-Baltistan as well as for the Aman Committees in Karachi, if it hopes to bring peace to these provinces. President Zardari might hold any number of meetings at Zardari House, as he did on Monday night, but that will not solve Karachi’s problems, and not Gilgit-Baltistan’s either, until the government changes to a more people-oriented form of government, which relies on actual performance to win support, not tired old slogans.

The government should do as the President said at Monday’s meeting, and arrest all culprits. That is the job of the government. To punish them is the job of the judiciary. The government must gather that evidence and provide it. There must be no cover-up, or else the criminals will learn the wrong lesson, that they can get away with anything, even murder.