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Lyari operation put on hold

05 May, 2012

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KARACHI: The ongoing operation in the Lyari area of the city was suspended for 48 hours on Friday. Interior Minister Rehman Malik formally made an announcement in this regard.

The move came on the heels of the Sindh government's decision to offer surrender to the criminals operating in the area. Police and Frontier Constabulary were asked to withdraw from the areas where the clashes were taking place. The interior minister, however, said police would remain in Lyari to prevent attacks by the gangsters.

On Friday, at least eight rockets were fired in Cheel Chowk, Gabool Park and Afshani Gali, resultantly injuring two policemen. Heavy firing was also reported from Singho Lane, Afshani Street and Cheel Chowk. Malik warned that the houses from where rockets were being fired would be hit.

The CID police claimed to have destroyed a post of gangsters in Afshani Street and recovered arms and ammunition. The eight-day-long operation has so far claimed 38 lives and left 150 people wounded. The dead include five policemen. Meanwhile, outlawed People's Amn Committee Chairman Uzair Baloch who had on Thursday agreed to surrender, went back on his offer, saying that the locals had asked him against doing so.

Although no clear objectives or targets have been laid down by police for the operation, but during his three press conferences, the Sindh IG kept repeating that the main objective of the operation was to clear the area of gangsters. Gangsters have, however, stood their ground and have not retreated uptil now, while the police had been unable to advance from Cheel Chowk, their base. Police claimed to have killed around nine gangsters during the operation. The weeklong hostilities have severely affected the lives of local residents who have been forced to close businesses and move out to safer places.

Meanwhile, President Asif Zardari on Friday said both force and political means would be used to curb law and order situation in Lyari.

He was talking to Sindh cabinet members. The delegation included Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Khan Durrani, Food Minister Nawabzada Mir Nadir Ali Khan Magsi, Finance Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Irrigation and Power Minister Jam Saifullah Khan Dharejo, Revenue and Relief Minister Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar and Information Minister Shazia Marri.

Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Federal Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khursheed Shah, Federal Education Minister Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Senator Islamuddin Sheikh, PPP Member National Assembly (MNA) Nawab Ali Wasaan, Federal Sports Minister Mir Ijaz Hussain Jakhrani and PPP MNA Gul Muhammad Jakhrani were also present during the meeting.

The president said that the restoration of complete law and order and the protection of lives and property of the citizens in Karachi was the priority of the government. He said no compromise would be made in this regard. He directed that action should be taken against all violators, regardless of their affiliation, if any.

The Sindh chief minister briefed the president about efforts underway to control law and order situation in Lyari. He said that effective resolution of the genuine problems was also important to bring law and order under control. The president also laid emphasis on the need for all political forces to join hands against criminals to restore complete law and order in the metropolis.

The CM also briefed the president about ongoing developmental projects in Sindh, especially in Karachi. Zardari advised the provincial ministers to reach out to the people and help them resolve their issues.

Moreover, a shutter-down strike was observed in major cities of Balochistan on Friday to condemn the ongoing security operation in Lyari, a Baloch-dominated area of Karachi.

The strike call was given by the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) and supported by Baloch student organisations. The strike paralysed businesses and trade in Turbat, Panjgur, Pasni, Hub, Gwadar, Khuzdar, Naushki, Mand, Tump and other parts of Balochistan.

Streets wore a deserted look as shops, business centres and schools were closed for the day. There was also thin attendance observed in government offices.

BRP spokesman Sher Muhammad Bugti said, "The people of Lyari are trapped indoors for the past one week, running short of food, potable water and other essential needs of life." He said it seemed that it had been decided to "punish" the Baloch in the country and deny them their basic rights.

Bugti alleged that forces had jammed all cable and Internet services in many parts of Balochistan when a special interview of Baloch national leader Nawabzada Brahamdagh Bugti was being telecast on a Balochi news channel. Balochistan National Party (BNP) workers also staged a protest demonstration outside the Quetta Press Club and raised slogans against the government and police for their "brutal policies against the Baloch".

Addressing the protesters, BNP Information Secretary Agha Hassan said the ongoing operation in Lyari was part of "genocide of the Baloch". "The excessive use of force against the Baloch, which had started from Balochistan, has now been extended to Karachi." Agha Hassan criticised the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), saying the party was "appeasing the MQM by killing the innocent Baloch".

End.

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