Karachi handover... By Mukhtar
29 August, 2013
I am writing this letter with reference to the news that the MQM has asked Mian Nawaz Sharif to hand over Karachi to the army due to the prevailing law and order situation, which is resulting in the daily target killings of innocent people in double figures. What is wrong with this demand? Is it because it has come from the MQM? The fact of the matter is that the people of Karachi have been demanding Karachi's handover so that the city is, once and for all, cleansed of criminals but their demands have fallen on deaf years. Let me remind the rulers, opposition parties and other political groups the words of Quaid-e-Azam in his speech delivered on August 11, 1947 to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. He said, "You will, no doubt, agree with me that the first duty of the government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the state."
Now the question arises: are we meeting this obligation? The answer is a resounding 'no'! If the government machinery fails, what are the options? We have only one option, which is to take help from our constitution. Article 245 (1)(1) of the Constitution of Pakistan says, "The armed forces shall, under the direction of the federal government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so."
It is so surprising to see the army being called in to catch dacoits, apprehend criminals and kidnappers, escort public convoys, aid in rail disaster emergencies, negotiate during hijacking situations, help out in the floods, control sectarian violence, help distribute flour and keep the peace during elections but when people are being killed on a daily basis, what is the justification to keep quiet? There is total collapse of civil administration. The rulers should wake up from their slumber and see the ground realities before it is too late. If there is a big fire, firemen are called from all sources, including the armed forces, to combat the fire. What is wrong in demanding that Karachi be handed over to the army for a short period? Let us not compare the Karachi situation with that in other provinces as it has no relevance with their situation. Lastly, the army cannot and should not sit back as a silent spectator when the country is burning. It boils down to the fact that our rulers and opposition must make an immediate decision before it is too late.
MUKHTAR AHMED BUTT