Karachi is just too big and too messed up for any one man or political party to successfully deal with alone. This realisation is reflected in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Karachi, where he chaired a high-level meeting to discuss the ongoing “targeted operation” and the overall law and order situation in the metropolis. The meeting was attended by members of Jamat-e-Islami (JI), Awami National Party (ANP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Sindh Governor Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan, Co-chairman PPP Asif Ali Zardari, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif and other members from security agencies including the police. Unfortunately, the party with the second highest number of votes in the city, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), was not invited. Perhaps the PM isn’t so pleased with Mr Imran Khan these days for obvious reasons. Regardless, the presence of most stakeholders for the purpose of bringing peace to the city can be viewed as an encouraging development. Appearances are not everything, but they’re also not nothing.

A show of unity holds great value when dealing with issues that involve powerful forces, which rely on political in-fighting. Most importantly, it boosts the morale of those who are fighting criminals and terrorists on the ground as it displays commitment on the part of the leadership. After all, who wants to risk their lives and die for nothing? That being said, positive reinforcement or shows of solidarity cannot be considered as alternatives for concrete work. And that is what Karachi really needs; implementation and action rather than just elaborate plans or big words.

The police is politicised. The political parties have militant wings of their own. Land and water mafias operate with impunity. Target killers are available for hire, and their services are acquired by almost everyone. Then there is the issue of religious terrorism. The TTP’s growing footprint is no secret. Sectarian parties are more active than ever before proven by the many recent murders linked to sectarianism. This is only a poor summary of a poorer situation. Clearly, the city needs more than reassurances. Other than chairing a meeting, what more is the PM willing to do in order to solve the crisis? Is the provincial government, with Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah in-charge, willing to go all the way even if it means that some of its own people face the music? And, what about the MQM? Is it willing to co-operate, or better yet, reform? Greater the challenge, the smaller our leadership appears in contrast. It is important to remain hopeful, but not to the point of foolishness.