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ISLAMABAD: Voices that have called for the Army to restore peace in Karachi faced opposition in the National Assembly on Thursday with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman advocating a political cure for the violence-hit port city instead of asking the Army to step in.

While the NA session was meant to debate the law and order situation in Karachi, the PPP and PML-N legislators put the ongoing bloodshed on the backburner and were more interested in targeting each other`s leadership and accusing each other of political point-scoring.

The row between the PPP and PML-N began with the speech of PML-N’s Hanif Abbasi, who wasted much breath in targeting the PPP leadership rather than speaking about Karachi. In a tit-for-tat response, PPP Punjab President Imtiaz Safdar Warraich targeted the PML-N leadership in his speech. In the end, the PPP government was isolated in the National Assembly for its failure to control the law and order situation and all the opposition parties, including the MQM, questioned the sincerity of the ruling party to restore peace in the Sindh capital.

Maulana Fazl rejected the calls made by MQM chief Altaf Hussain and others to hand over Karachi to the Army for restoration of peace, saying that a military solution was not a cure to the problem and a political cure was needed. “All stakeholders should sit together and find a serious solution to the Karachi issue,” he added.

He said it seemed that the rulers were not serious in restoring peace in Karachi. “The Awami National Party, a treasury party, has demanded a military operation, and now the opposition party, the MQM, which had earlier opposed the idea, has also joined in. This change of mind reflects the gravity of the situation,” Fazl said.

He said allegations of fuelling lingual and racial hatred in Karachi were being leveled against the president of the country, which was very unfortunate. He said the use of blatant force was not a good idea to resolve issues and all political options should first be exhausted to resolve the problem. He said people only seek military intervention when civilian rule deteriorates.

He said that it was only after the failure of the Khybrer Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government that a military operation was launched in the province and Fata. He said the calls for a military operation in Karachi reflected the failure of the Sindh government. “I have time and again asked the rulers that the Army is a national institution and it should not be used against our own public. If seven lakh Army men cannot end the freedom movement in Kashmir, how will they achieve results in Pakistan?” he questioned.

Fazl said the Nato forces had also failed in Afghanistan, Libya and other parts of world, so the Army could not succeed in Pakistan. He warned the government against a conspiracy against the country’s nuclear assets and said the Nato forces wanted to dismantle Pakistan’s nuclear capability.

PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi said the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi had become a matter of great concern among the masses and dozens of people were being killed in Karachi on a daily basis. He said as many as 350 people were killed only in the month of July and 1,500 were gunned down during the last six months in Karachi. He said unfortunately no one knew who was responsible for the killings.

Abbasi criticised Rehman Malik for his absence from the House and said his absence reflected the non-seriousness of the government to resolve the issue. At this stage, a treasury member, Nasir Ali Shah, also the joined in and said people were being killed in Quetta and Karachi while the interior minister was enjoying government perks.

Hanif Abbasi said those who were pointing at the “Pathan” and “Mohajir” for being responsible for unrest in Karachi were part of the conspiracy hatched by the anti-state elements to destabilise the country.

Sajid Ahmad of the MQM said killers had a free hand in Karachi and law enforcement agencies were not discharging their duty to protect the lives and property of citizens. He said the MQM was against the division of Sindh and the mandate of all political parties should be accepted since it was critical for maintaining peace in Karachi.

Imtiaz Safdar Warraich attacked the PML-N leadership in his speech and said the N-League had won no elections since 2002 and the only election they had won was in the Convention Centre in which Nawaz Sharif was elected the president of the party.

Warriach said those who taunted the PPP for the National Reconciliation Ordinance forget that the PML-N had run away from Pakistan after seeking an apology from a dictator in December 2000. He also reminded the PML-N that while they taunted the PPP for making an alliance with the PML-Q, they had themselves accepted the right hand man of General Musharraf "Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Blaoch" who was a corps commander and played a role to bring Musharraf`s supporters to the local government elections.

Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza asked Warriach to cut short his speech. He regretted that despite sincere efforts by the government, the opposition was resorting to criticism for the sake of criticism.

After his speech, PML-N legislator Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, on a personal explanation, denied all the allegations leveled by Warraich. Also, Abdul Maalik Wazir said it was the foremost duty of the government to ensure peace for the people. He said Karachi had great economic significance while Fata and Balochistan had strategic significance. He said establishment of peace in all these areas should be the top priority of the government.

Bushra Gohar called for across-the-board deweaponisation of Karachi and said action should be taken against all criminals irrespective of their political affiliations. She pointed out that demographic changes had taken place in Karachi and there should be a transparent census so that the real situation became clear.

Iqbal Muhammad Ali Khan said looting, arson and killing spree continued in Karachi but no concrete action was being taken to get to the root of the problem. He said perpetrators of violence in Karachi should be taken to task and the deweaponisation campaign should be launched across the country.

Khurram Dastgir Khan said the continuation of violence in Karachi had created the impression that elected leaders were incapable of handling the situation. He was of the view that apart from the land grabbing and drug mafia, a tough war was on for political control of Karachi.

PML-N`s Ahsan Iqbal announced a walkout from the House to protest the ongoing loadshedding in Ramazan and the financial crisis in Pakistan Railways. Before the party walked out, Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi adjourned the session till today (Friday). Ahsan Iqbal reiterated the demand that security institutions should brief the House and the debate was concluded.


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