The Sindh Apex Committee meeting on Monday was chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and attended by Corps Commander Karachi Lieutenant General Naveed Mukthar, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, DG ISI Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar and other ministers. The much-hyped Karachi operation has failed to restore peace to the metropolis, and the political atmosphere has only worsened following the release of the JIT report implicating members of the MQM in the Baldia factory fire.
Statements attributed to the COAS during the meeting show that the military leadership is keen on sorting out the mess in Karachi despite the difficulties faced in the Rangers-led operation and political bickering. While Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asserts that the federal government is committed to fighting violence in Karachi, his government has not been able to bring the PPP, the MQM and other stakeholders together to put an end to the cycle of violence that claims hundreds of lives every year. Although the politicians have come to the table and shared ideas and best wishes on more than one occasion under the leadership of the prime minister, it has been business as usual in Karachi. When civilians fail to address security and political issues, it is difficult for them to keep the military from asserting itself, which is exactly what seems to be happening in Karachi.
Reportedly, General Raheel Sharif ensured that the military is willing to go to any length to restore peace in the megacity. He also said that action should be taken against all criminals regardless of their ethnic, political and sectarian affiliations. He further called for an end to political interference in transfers and postings and depoliticisation of the city’s police force. These remarks seem to be directed at the Sindh government and the MQM, and they ought to be if they’re not. It is unfortunate that the army chief has to spell out what needs to be done since those that are in fact responsible for identifying issues and taking these steps also happen to be the problem.
The Sindh government has been carrying out postings and transfers for political purposes without any regard for the drastic implications such actions carry for Karachi’s security. The MQM is guilty of doing the same when it had the power. Despite several promises and assurances, the police force remains highly politicised and incapable of dealing with the crisis. If left to the PPP and the MQM, Karachi would go on as it has as long as everyone gets a piece of the pie. Whether the military and the federal government will be able to exert enough pressure to compel the two entities to get their house in order remains to be seen.