The Supreme Court reserved, on Wednesday, its verdict on complaints about the non-verification of a large number of votes in Karachi and shifting of votes to other towns and cities of the country on the basis of permanent addresses recorded in the computerised national identity cards. To recall, the PTI, the JI and the PML-N had filed petitions requesting for redress of these anomalies. The petitioners had complained that as many as three million persons living in Karachi for the past 10 to 15 years had been shown as registered voters in their native towns like Swat, Mingora, Mansehra and Attock. According to the counsel of the Sindh Election Commission, the petitioners’ contention was contrary to facts as, he stated, only 68,000 could not be verified.

During the course of the hearing, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry observed that a door-to-door verification in the city, conducted with the help of the army and Rangers, should sort out the matter. Besides, he believed, the involvement of the army would make for improvement in the law and order situation of Karachi since the checking would help in the weeding out of undesirable elements and those who had no business to be living there. However, the counsel of a political party took exception to door-to-door checking, maintaining that it should be preceded by a countrywide census and then this procedure should be applied to other parts of the country as well and not restricted merely to Karachi. Justice Chaudhry, however, felt that in that case the elections could be held only after six years and, therefore, he thought no harm in having the electoral rolls verified in the case of Karachi alone. The issues involved should preferably have been dealt with by the stakeholders themselves, he believed; for a peaceful Karachi, Pakistan’s industrial and commercial hub, would go a long way towards reviving the economy and, thus, serving the national interest. Once democracy took root, the situation would start looking up.

It hardly needs mentioning here that the dreadful situation in Karachi, with an unending streak of target killings and widespread prevalence of extortion, has been of grave concern to the people at large. For all the claims both the provincial and federal governments have been repeatedly making over the years, they have singularly failed to check the rising graph of violence that has so far caused the deaths of well over 6,000 of our citizens. The almost certain involvement of foreign elements is complicating the already chaotic scenario in the city and one would assume that the powers that be have a limited choice left lest the situation should deteriorate further. And that choice happens to be the armed forces of the country, which are also charged with the ultimate responsibility of maintaining internal peace and stability. It is high time to seriously ponder the option.