Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif does not seem to be having much luck with the operation scheduled to begin in Karachi. After announcing the decision on Thursday, he held another meeting on the modalities of the operation on Saturday in Lahore at his residence. While the government seems to have realized the obvious, that Karachi is in dire need of help, and the extortion rackets and target killings going on there cannot be allowed to continue to disturb the peace of the city, it does not seem able to bring the required peace there, through the police, or even Rangers, which are to be given additional powers of arrest and interrogation. The Prime Minister’s warning, that the law enforcing agencies would have to show their performance, has been made before. It was noticeable that, while the meeting was attended by a full complement of military and intelligence officials, as well as a number of federal ministers, there was no representation from the Sindh Cabinet, even though the Prime Minister had described the Sindh Chief Minister as the "captain" of the team that would tackle the problem.

As the government seems to be staggering about repeating the self-evident, perhaps it could make a start by conceding that this is a law and order problem, constitutionally a provincial subject, and the federal government need not micromanage the operation through the forces it has put up, in the shape of the Rangers.

It must also ensure that the necessary legal amendments recommended by the Supreme Court ought to be made as soon as possible. One reason for the breakdown in Karachi has been the impunity given not just by political connections, but the law as well. It should be wary of such moves as that by the Sindh Home Department, for the IGP to be informed before any action. Such bureaucratic turf protection is particularly dangerous at this juncture.

The meeting was also briefed about the agenda of the All-Parties Conference on National Security. The law and order situation in Karachi should be included, for it is a national issue, and demands a national solution.