While holding the Federal Cabinet meeting in Karachi, Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif wisely chose to avoid the term operation or grand operation although it was evident that he meant it.

The real thing to be done is action. But whatever action is taken it should be sustained, intelligently planned and properly coordinated. That, it seems has already begun.

Bottlenecks previously hindering the work of the agencies and police are being removed through consultations with not only the law enforcement agencies, eminent legal experts, intelligence functionaries, politicians, traders but also with media persons so that ambivalence doesn’t impede action.

Previously, it was thought by critics that too much of deliberations would lead to further confusion and inaction. These apprehensions proved wrong as a workable strategy has now been evolved.

This strategy and its action plan have been explained by Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan. At the first cursory look, the plan promises relief for the terror-struck Karachiites rather all the Pakistanis who are living in a state of constant fear, given the rise of mafias and armed groups of fearless gun-runners, kidnappers, extortionists and other types of hardened criminals.

To begin with, a list of 450 hardened criminals has already been identified based on information from Rangers, police and intelligence agencies. The PM and the cabinet have taken notice of the list of these 450 criminals moving about the city with complete liberty.

Certainly, this is very significant. More significant is the federal government’s seriousness to identify weaknesses and inadequacies in the existing legal and criminal justice system. Obviously the goal is to get rid of these pitfalls as according to both the PM and the Interior Minister, amendments in the existing laws as well as in the Constitution have also been decided that would ensure penalization of hardened toughies and spoilers of peace. Judiciary’s guidance would also be sought.

And, although all the details of all the key decisions have not been revealed due to the ‘sensitivity of the situation’ and with the idea of avoiding alerting the criminals, the plan that has been chalked out is a combination of checks and balances and partnerships of all the stakeholders inspired by the motivation to rid the society of this evil forever. According to the plan, four committees have been formed. One is the legal committee headed by Zahid Hamid and it will also include Barrister Farogh Nasim who also represents MQM. The operational committee will be headed by DG Rangers that will monitor the operations and continue to devise further action plans. It will meet daily and IGP Sindh and intelligence agencies’ representatives will also be a part of it. One thing merits mention here and that is the redress of Rangers’ concern. Rangers were of the opinion that after painstaking efforts they had been apprehending the terrorists and criminals but having no powers to investigate, all these efforts would usually end up in total fiasco. From now onwards, one police station would be identified in each district where Rangers will be the lead agency and part of the investigations as well.

The third committee will be headed by CM Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, and it will monitor day-to-day affairs of the action. And one very important committee is the outer or monitoring committee. It will comprise representatives of the civil society, media persons, senior citizens and retired bureaucrats with a clean and non-aligned background.

This committee will monitor this overall exercise, action, operation and it will provide input to the government, the security agencies as well as the media and also decide and establish whether someone is arrested on account of his political affiliation or is really involved in crimes. This committee’s biggest responsibility is to ensure that no innocent person is arrested.

The plan has inherent ingredients of success and is going to achieve the desired results particularly because it is the product of collective will free from the element of dissension, discord or malice of any degree. PM’s specific decision to give the Sindh CM, the commanding position means reposing complete confidence not only in the elected PPP government of province but also in the public mandate. The same sentiments of goodwill have been expressed by the PM as well as the Interior Minister for MQM “whose mandate will be respected”. This particular move has provided added strength and credibility to the operation.

These measures show that Karachi in coming weeks and months could be on its way to becoming a peaceful and calm city once again, even though at the same time, it is unclear whether the real forces and political groups and mafias that are at the back of street thugs and bandits will be crushed or not. Some of them are abroad in exiles while others masquerade in the assemblies as friends and servants of the electorate.

This is no ordinary cauldron that we see in Karachi. It surely is equally dreadful, if not worse than most of the ugly things we have confronted. But perhaps this time around, there might be a ray of hope which is that the authorities including the Rangers seem to have a degree of freedom from political interference.

The writer is a freelance columnist.