The message from the federal government including the security chiefs is getting louder and clearer. ‘The Karachi operation will neither slow down nor is there any turning back. While failure is certainly not an option, the operation will be taken to its logical conclusion irrespective of the cost and time involved’.

Did this message cause the sudden change in PPP Sindh’s threatening tone to a more conciliatory one after the recent Apex Committee meeting chaired by Sain Sarkaar? Qaim Ali Shah’s government could not have been on a weaker wicket with almost failed governance and mafias virtually ruling and controlling various departments.

In the face of federal agencies’ resolve and determination to bring peace to Karachi and crush all mafias, Sain Sarkaar’s reservations notwithstanding, he had no choice but to submit to full implementation of the National Action Plan in Sindh, particularly in Karachi. From threats of debating the presence of Rangers or curtailing their powers in Sindh, the PPP spokesman reportedly assured the smooth passage of the Bill for extension/grant of special powers to Rangers in PPP majority Sindh Assembly.

The Apex Committee’s decision to adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards all elements sponsoring or abetting terrorists and criminals as well as a crackdown on banned outfits and illegal madrassas in Sindh is a welcome step. More important is the decision to speed up investigation and prosecution of arrested criminals and terrorists in targeted operations and ensure speedy trials by anti terrorism courts.

It was prudent on part of PPP Sindh to adopt a positive posture, for it knew well that any further confrontation with security establishment in aftermath of their co chairperson Asif Ali Zardari’s shameful anti Army outburst, could have serious consequences. The PPP’s countrywide majority especially in Punjab was of the view that Zardari had committed a blunder by targeting and challenging Army and its leadership and hence amends must be made.

There was also too much at stake for Zardari or his party to defy the Karachi operation. While he flew to his safe abode in Dubai, his front men mafia within the party’s hierarchy and government departments stood fully exposed. A few of his accomplices may have preempted the Rangers operation and escaped abroad, whilesome were nabbed by the Rangers, NAB Sindh and FIA. The Lyari gang leader Uzair Baloch and Ayyan Ali’s sensational revelations could have repercussions if these surfaced in the media.

With Ayyan Ali’s bail the criminal carrier mafia seemed to have prevailed over our state’s investigation and prosecution system. It is also a big question mark on our judicial system. Were the indictment and charges against the model deliberately stalled to facilitate her freedom from jail? Pakistanis wonder if it was a planned compromise between the PPP and PML-N to bail out PPP’s top most leader and many other big fish allegedly involved in the model’s money laundering trips abroad.

Ayyan Ali may have managed her freedom. But why is no one including the media talking about the mysterious death of the Customs officer who was reportedly dealing with evidence against Ayyan Ali. Does his family not deserve justice? Many may disagree with ex Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry’s policy of fast track suomoto in cases of public importance, but Pakistanis surely missed him now.

Asif Ali Zardari’s departure for his secure and luxurious haven abroad may be a blessing in disguise not only for his son who is also PPP’s chairperson but also for the party throughout the country. Even if Zardari does return at some point in time in the future he may find it exceedingly difficult to remove the strains in his relations with military.

This may be the moment for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to seize, so as to assume control over party’s affairs. Bilawal’s meeting with Karachi’s Corps Commander and DG Rangers, his first ever with top khakis, could also herald his formal recognition as PPP’s chairperson by the military. This also implies that we may see the beginning of a new Bilawal - military working relationship as well as the young PPP leader’s greater involvement in support of National Action Plan and Karachi operation.

Bilawal is intelligent enough to understand that combined effect of Rangers, FIA and NAB operations would not only help in breaking the back of criminal mafias in Sindh including Karachi but would also lead to cleansing of corrupt elements within the party who are known to patronize such mafias as well as finance terrorist /banned groups.

What Bilawal would have loved to do himselfis to gain effective control, but was helpless in the presence of his father and the shady cronies; he could achieve the same by wholeheartedly supporting the Apex committee’s decisions. In his heart, Bilawal may be ready to sacrifice such undesirable personalities in PPP who are hurdles in his quest to reform and relaunch the party as a corruption free and clean political party.

Bilawal’s real challenge remains in wresting control over party’s affairs from his father who is also party’s co chairperson. Zardari may follow the Altaf Hussain model to retain control over the party affairs and influence Sindh government’s decision making from Dubai. If this happens then Bilawal may find it extremely difficult to revive the party in accordance with the vision of his late grandfather and PPP’s founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his illustrious mother Benazir Bhutto.

With the PPP Sindh now seeking to improve relations with the Rangers, the MQM’s top most leadership stands further isolated and marginalized. Altaf Hussain’s policy of open confrontation with the state and its institutions will only complicate the matters for him as a British citizen. His hate speeches from London that threaten to turn Karachi into Somalia or cause bloodshed in the mega city’s streets must stop. Whether the dozens of cases registered against him all over the country have any effect remains to be seen.

Pakistanis wonder why the government hesitates in lodging formal diplomatic protest with British High Commissioner in Islamabad. If British government fails to take action and bans Altaf Hussain’s hate speeches then we would be justified in believing that these were happening with London’s support. This will then be considered as an unfriendly act that may lead to strains in our good relations with Britain.