The targeted operation in Karachi was started in September 2013 by the federal government in consultation with and consensus of all the political parties after the failure of the Sindh government to check acts of terrorism, target killings, extortions, land grabbing and turf war between militant wings of the political parties including MQM, PPP and ANP; an irrefutable reality as also pointed out by the Supreme Court while hearing a case on law and order situation in Karachi. The reason why the Sindh government failed to control the situation in Karachi was that both the ruling PPP and its coalition partner MQM were themselves part of the problem, as the militants and target killers enjoyed their patronage. The public pressure after the SC verdict was so intense that these parties had no choice but to support the targeted operation by Rangers publicly, though they never wanted it to happen.

Ever since the commencement of the targeted operation by Rangers, which later also became one of the top priorities of the National Action Plan, I have been expressing the apprehensions in my columns that both these parties would try to undermine this operation at some stage when the criminals involved in the heinous crimes like terrorism and target killing are captured and start revealing their connections and their sponsors. Those fears proved right when MQM started accusing the Rangers of witch hunt and targeting only MQM in the wake of JIT report on Baldia Town fire, arrest of proclaimed target killers from nine zero, recovery of arms from the party headquarter and the revelations made by a number of arrested criminals in their confessional statements about MQM having sponsored the target killings, especially the statement made by Saulat Mirza. The party has been using different ploys to pressurize the government to have the operation stopped. Altaf Hussain even used the last arrow in his quiver by having the party legislators to submit their resignations from the assemblies and the senate. Though the government has been making strenuous efforts to dissuade MQM from exiting from the assemblies and promising redress of their genuine concerns, but it has unequivocally announced that the operation in Karachi would continue unabated and taken to its logical end; a stance on which both the civilian and military leadership are on the same page.

The MQM to whom the government was trying to keep in the national political mainstream has reportedly ended their dialogue with the government urging it to accept the resignations alleging that the government was insensitive to their demands. Dr. Farooq Sattar addressing a press conference in Islamabad early in the morning on 3rd September made this announcement. What would be political fallout of this action of MQM if it stuck to its latest stance, only time would reveal but my considered view is that if MQM ultimately does pull itself out of the assemblies, it would tantamount to axing its own feet by opting out of the political arena. The best course for MQM is to discard its unenviable past, disown the criminals and allow the law to take its course. It is undoubtedly a potent political force enjoying unstinted support of the Urdu speaking community and it should behave like a political party. Instead of persisting with its mode of denials of any connection with the criminals it must accept the ground realities and revisit its political creed accordingly.

Now the PPP has also taken up cudgels against the government accusing it of political victimization in the wake the arrest of Dr. Asim Hussain and action against corrupt elements in the Sindh government by FIA and NAB, which the Sind government considered interference in the provincial domain. It is particularly targeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and has threatened to end the policy of reconciliation with the government. This ostensibly is a well calculated move to pressurize the government, like MQM, to retract from the targeted operation in Karachi. I think both these parties are mistaken about the resolve of the government and the military establishment to resurrect Karachi from the clutches of criminal elements and to take the operation to its logical end. This message has been again reiterated unequivocally after a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and COAS General Raheel Sharif that took place in the backdrop of the new developments. It has been announced that the operation would continue come what may not taking into consideration the political exigencies. The impression of political victimization has also been strongly dismissed contending that no distinction would be made between criminals on the basis of their political affiliations and their cases would be decided by the courts according to law.

In view of the prevailing situation and the harrowing tales of terror and target killing related corruption in Sindh, revealed by the arrested criminals there was no doubt whatsoever about the fact that both these parties were guilty of pushing Karachi into the crucible of precipice and the law and order in the city could not be restored without a ruthless and indiscriminate crackdown against those involved in heinous crimes. It is satisfying to note that as a result of the actions of the Rangers, fully backed by the federal government and the security establishment, normalcy is gradually returning in Karachi. Incidents of terrorism, target killing, extortion and land grabbing have been effectively reduced to minimum and the citizens of Karachi are very happy about it and so are the people of Pakistan.

The sordid reality remains that the criminals arrested so far have invariably accepted their affiliations with either of the two parties. What these parties need to realize is that unlike the past half-hearted operations, the targeted operation was a well determined and uncompromising effort to eliminate the scourge of terrorism, target killings, extortion and terror related corruption. The option of going back on it is simply out of question. Their political tactics are not going to distract the government from its objective of restoring peace in Karachi and making the criminals to pay for their heinous crimes. This resolve and stance of the government and the military leadership is fully backed by the people of Pakistan. By persisting with their pro-criminal antics to cover up the likely involvement of the big guns of their parties in patronizing them, both the MQM and PPP are treading a wrong path which ultimately could lead to an irretrievable political damage to both of them.To remain relevant to the national political landscape they will have to rethink their strategies. It is probably the right time for both of them to give a serious thought to taking a break from their unreasonable positions and propagandist approach against the Rangers and the government. Karachi needs to be and must be resurrected from the quick sand that it has been pushed into, at any cost.