Monday, April 28, 2008
By Fasahat Mohiuddin
The officials of the Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA) and Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) are in a state of confusion, not knowing whether they should obey the orders of City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal or those of the Sindh Minister for Local Government Aga Siraj Durrani.
On one hand, the minister claims that he is the chairman of the KBCA and KWSB after the Sindh government passed an order to that effect, while, on the other, under a notification issued by the City District Government Karachi (CDGK), both the heads of the KBCA and KWSB are now Executive District Officers (EDOs) and report to the Nazim.
The newly-appointed Manzoor Qadir says that he is now the chief controller, KBCA, and has been elevated to this post by the Sindh government, replacing Rauf Akhtar Farooqi.
He said this while talking to The News on Sunday, adding that the KBCA was still working under the Sindh Building Control Ordinance (SBCO) 1979 and that he will perform all his duties under SBCO 79.
To another question, he said that “City Nazim Mustafa Kamal” had changed the name plate of ‘Controller’ and replaced it one reading ‘EDO.’
Qadir said that City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal was his boss as was Sindh Minister for Local Government Aga Siraj Durrani. Elaborating, he said that, being a government servant, he had to comply with the orders of both the minister as well as the city Nazim.
To another question whether Rauf Akhtar Farooqi, exñChief Controller, KBCA, had been removed on charges of corruption he said: “Not to my knowledge”.
Farooqi has been replaced with Qadir amidst a highly controversial situation that has spawned into a virtual conflict between Kamal and Durrani.
The city Nazim has already declared that head of the KBCA would be an EDO, while the minister maintains that the KBCA chief would remain a ‘controller.’
A similar situation has unfolded in the KWSB, as the KWSB chief is now, according to the city Nazim, not a ‘Managing Director,’ (MD) but an ‘EDO.’ However, according to the local body minister, the post is still ‘MD, KWSB.’
The conflict, though seemingly a matter of semantics, has legal and procedural repercussions. Durrani still maintains that he is chairman of KWSB and KBCA.
I wish you the very best in your resolve to restore law and order in Karachi and to eliminate terrorism and street crimes. I suggest that one way is to control firearms and weaponry. All citizens must be required to surrender all sorts of weapons and deposit them with the nearest police stations. All station house officers must be tasked to achieve the zero-weapons policy in their areas and any dereliction must be promptly punished.
Dire situations warrant drastic solutions. The Sindh Assembly should be asked to legislate and prescribe the death penalty for possession of arms of any sort.
AGHA KHALIL AHMAD
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Newly appointed IG Police Sindh Shoaib Suddle has been receiving death threats from unknown people. This was confirmed today by Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza who revealed that he too had been receiving similar threats. Dr Mirza said that the IGP had been asked to remain vigilant and beef up his security. Suddle was DIG Karachi during Benazir Bhutto’s second tenure until 1997 and was a key figure in the operation against the MQM, which the party alleges claimed the lives of many of its activists in what it terms were extra-judicial killings.
Police sources said that though the department had officially received the application, it was a “little early” to comment on the fate of the party’s plea.
“Now the application will be forwarded to the police high-ups for a legal opinion, which will establish if the substance provided in it allows an FIR or not,” said a senior police official.
He said since the incident took place more than a month ago, the police required enough grounds from the complainant to register a case.
“In such a situation where the process takes time, initially, an application is moved for the investigators’ consideration before lodging a proper FIR,” he added.
Apart from the Muttahida leadership, the MQM-H application also wants police officers concerned to be indicted in the case, who, allegedly, ignored the violence against the women activists.
“We have nominated Dr Farooq Sattar, Anwar Alam, Faisal Sabzwari, Shoaib Bukhari and Wasay Jalil in our application to be booked under an FIR,” said MQM-H’s Rida Asim, the complainant and in-charge of the party’s women’s wing.
“Besides, Feroz, who is the in-charge of the Burnes Road sector of the MQM, has also been named in the application. The senior leadership of the MQM planned the attack, which was executed by the members of its Burnes Road sector.”
She said though the police officials had responded positively and received the application, the party would move the court of law if the law enforcers avoided action on her request.
A rival group of women engaged in a brawl with the women demonstrators belonging to the MQM-H outside the Karachi Press Club on March 12, which resulted in injuries to female members of the party.
Later, armed youths jumped into the fray and fired into the air to stop cameramen from taking pictures and scare away media personnel covering the demonstration. The driver of a private TV channel’s van, who was waiting for his colleagues covering the event, was kidnapped from outside the KPC by some six armed men and later released.
“We had also tried earlier right after the incident but received no response from the authorities concerned. This time we have moved an application to pursue the case. If it doesn’t work we will definitely move court,” said Ms Asim.
Two workers reportedly belonging to the Muttahida Quami Movement were killed and another two were injured when unidentified armed men opened fire on them in Landhi on April 19. The Muttahida blamed MQM-Haqiqi workers for the killings and lodged an FIR against them.
Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday afternoon, the MQM-Haqiqi women wing in charge, Rida Asim, condemned the killings of what she described as two Muhajir youths in Landhi and observed that the Muttahida had hatched a conspiracy to prevent Haqiqi leaders and workers from returning to their respective areas.
She condemned the implication of her party workers in the killing and said the incident was the continuity of the May 12 mayhem.
Ms Asim said that Haqiqi women workers were subjected to torture when they were demonstrating outside the KPC on March 12, while a number of their workers were kidnapped and later killed.
She blamed Muttahida leaders and a policeman for the violence and killings and demanded the authorities concerned to arrest them.
She demanded the authorities concerned to launch a transparent inquiry into the Nishtar Park tragedy, May 12 mayhem, Tahir Plaza fire besides holding a high-level probe into the killings of political leaders and workers during the last few years.
She urged the Sindh government to allow MQM-Haqiqi to play its democratic role in the political process like other political parties.
The Haqiqi women workers did not leave the press club for at least three hours after holding the press conference as they said they felt that their lives were in danger.
KARACHI, April 22: The role of some station house officers (SHOs) in the May 12 killings is being investigated by intelligence agencies ahead of the first anniversary of the fateful day, sources close to spymasters told Dawn.
Over 45 people were killed and dozens wounded when the Muttahida Qaumi Movement held a rally the day the deposed chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, landed at Karachi airport to address the Karachi Bar Association on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Sindh High Court Bar Association.
The Pakistan People’s Party, the Awami National Party and the Jamaat-i-Islami had already announced their plans to take out processions to welcome the deposed chief justice.
Ironically, except for one, the station house officers in Shah Faisal and Malir towns – where most of the killings took place on May 12, 2007 – are still posted at their respective police stations.
A majority of the killings took place in the jurisdictions of the Shah Faisal, Al-Falah, Malir City and Model Colony police stations.
Sources close to the officials overseeing the inquiry by the agencies said that there was evidence that official weapons and rounds belonging to the Al-Falah and Shah Faisal and Malir City police stations were freely used on May 12.
The Shah Faisal Colony SHO recently went on month-long leave in a move described as “highly unusual” by a senior officer.
“There is ample evidence available in the form of video clips that the SMGs used by terrorists at the Baloch Colony flyover and some other spots, such as Malir Halt, had SMG straps attached to them, which shows that they were official weapons,” said a source privy to the probe.
Similarly, several hundred official rounds of AK-47 rifles were also used on May 12, sources quoting some senior police officers said.
Explaining the additional use of official weapons, an official said that they were used as the terrorists had run out of their own stock on that particular day.
Police and Rangers have not yet been able to explain away their inaction on May 12. In fact, the then city police chief, Azhar Ali Farooqui, told the Sindh High Court that he was helpless on May 12.
Mr Farooqui was subsequently appointed Sindh IG and he held the post till he was replaced by Dr Shoaib Suddle earlier this month.
“You just collect the footage of the stretch of road starting from the COD to Malir Halt and at the Baloch Colony flyover belonging to private television channels of May 12 and not much will be left to investigate,” said a senior police officer requesting anonymity.
In the aftermath of the May 12 incidents, police did complete their formalities by registering 55 FIRs in the defunct police zones I and II.
Most of the FIRs were lodged by the heirs of the people who had died in the May 12 violence, but in some cases police also registered FIRs on behalf of the state against unknown persons.
An officer belonging to the investigation wing of the police said there had been little investigation into the May 12 killings. He added that the probe had never been initiated.
On January 5, 2008, the body of an ST activist, Shafeequr Rehman, was found with multiple bullet wounds in Sector 1-C, KBR, Buffer Zone.
The inquiry officer in the case, Sub-inspector Khursheed Khan, said that the victim’s brother, Jalil Mohammad, had lodged an FIR (18/2008) under Sections 302/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) at the Taimuria police station against unknown persons.
He had nominated Azam alias Bali saying that he might be behind the murder of his brother, said the inquiry officer.
The IO said that upon investigating the case, the police found some circumstantial evidence which suggested the involvement of Azam in the murder of Shafeequr Rehman that led to the arrest of Azam alias Bali on Thursday. According to the police, Bali is an activist of the MQM associated with the KBR sector.
A senior police officer, who wished not to be named, told Dawn that the law-enforcers were facing immense pressure from the party to release the suspect.
Officials at the Taimuria police station said that a number of Muttahida workers had gathered outside the police station, questioning the rationale behind the arrest of their colleague.
Sensing gravity of the situation, the suspect was shifted to the North Nazimabad police station, while police high-ups had also been informed about the matter, officials said.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
I HAVE often thought that even at the best of times, Pakistan is one of the most difficult countries in the world to govern.
And this is certainly not the best of times. Rising food and fuel prices are threatening the stability of poor countries around the world. In Pakistan, years of military rule and Islamic militancy have taken their toll, leaving institutions enfeebled.
The recent riots in Multan, where the local utility company was targeted by mobs driven to rage by long power breakdowns, is a sign of things to come. In the last decade, not a single megawatt was added to the national grid, and the economy and the population are suffering as a result. Clearly, this is going to be a long, hot summer.
Add to this the sharply rising food prices, and you have a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Already, flour has hit the unprecedented price level of Rs40 a kilo in certain parts of the country. As a result, people are having to go to bed hungry.
The explanations given by ex-prime minister Shaukat Aziz for both crises are truly bizarre. He is quoted as saying that ‘his’ government underestimated how fast the economy would grow, and therefore did not invest in increasing electricity production. As regards food prices, he maintains that wheat storage and distribution are a provincial issue, and he allowed the export of 800,000 tons of wheat last year as there were adequate stocks. No wonder he is now out of the country, and the PML-Q is out of power.
Given the scale of the problems facing it, the new government has its work cut out. Thus far, it has shown all the caution of a person trying to tiptoe his way out of a minefield. Certainly, jettisoning the worst elements of the noxious Pemra rules that governed the electronic media is a welcome step. But the government needs to do a lot more before it gets bogged down in the infighting and the rivalries that so often bedevil coalitions.
Already, the goodwill generated by the reconciliatory words and actions of the PPP is being eroded. The whole issue of how to deal with the reinstatement of the chief justice is testing the patience of the coalition partners. Musharraf’s political future is another factor causing uncertainty.
Above all, the MQM remains the joker in the pack. Its constantly changing posture and its inconsistent policies are a reflection of its leader’s personality. The recent show of force it allegedly staged in Karachi on April 9 was a reminder — in case anybody had forgotten the massacre of May 12 last year — of who runs Karachi. The fact that newspapers and TV channels fear exposing this party, and just how it won the seats it did in the February elections, is a reflection of the methods it uses.
And yet, despite the distaste many people feel in having to do deals with this group, the fact is that it does have a stranglehold on Pakistan’s biggest port and financial capital. Ultimately, power derives from the ability to deny access to an essential commodity, as witness Opec and its control over oil. The MQM’s ultimate power rests on its ability to shut down Karachi at will.
It is in implicit recognition of this stark reality that the PPP offered the MQM a share in the Sindh government, despite having an unassailable majority in the provincial assembly. But the MQM is insisting on more than the ministries it is being offered. It is now demanding a veto over who the government appoints as head of the police. We can rest assured that the list of its demands will only grow over time.
The truth is that with Musharraf’s active support, the MQM pretty much called the shots in Sindh for the last six years, even though the PPP was the largest party in the province. Understandably, its leadership is having a hard time coming to terms with the changes that have taken place in the political scenario since the February elections.
Given the questionable activities of many of its members, the party has an obvious interest in who runs the police. Similarly, the grip it has acquired over the local councils in urban Sindh now appears distinctly shaky. Almost certainly, the new government will review the entire system of devolution Musharraf has imposed on the country, given its ill-conceived premise and the lack of support it enjoys among the major parties.
Despite their reservations, the more pragmatic leaders in both parties need to put their personal dislikes aside. The country is delicately poised, and if it is to overcome the looming crises it faces, there must be unity among the major players.
For the PPP, popularity in rural Sindh and southern Punjab does not permit it to rule comfortably. The fact is that in developing countries especially, governments are made and brought down in the cities. It has thus reached out to representatives of Pakistan’s rising urban middle class. But while the PML-N is now effectively in control of Punjab, with a large role in the centre, the MQM is the big loser, together with the clerics of the MMA. The PML-Q was never really a party but was created by Musharraf to serve his purpose.
Unfortunately, over the years, the MQM has conducted itself in a manner that has made it thoroughly distrusted by most mainstream politicians. It is controlled by somebody who has not been in the country for over 15 years. And it has hitched its fortunes to Musharraf and the Chaudhries, all of whom are now in decline. If it is to play a constructive role in the coming days, it needs to conduct an internal debate to decide its position. To its credit, it has remained true to its secular principles. But it cannot continue to negotiate for a slice of the cake while holding a gun to Karachi’s head.
Clearly, Karachi cannot march to the beat of a different drummer: it has to sink or swim with the rest of the country.
KARACHI: A man in his thirties, in a brown shalwar kameez, was standing next to Denso Hall on MA Jinnah Road. He was ever ready to spring into action. As he saw the police coming he held up his palm towards the back of the alley as he spoke to someone else on his cell phone in rapid fire Urdu.
Why don’t you shout any slogans, he was egged on. “The time for slogans has passed,” he snapped. “This is the work of the gun. My only regret is that we don’t have the latest weapons.”
This man was one of many who came out of nowhere on Wednesday to riot and set vehicles on fire. Most of the cars were set on fire with the help of chemicals and not the usual Samad Bond and petrol. Chief Fire Officer Ehtishamuddin Siddiqui said that bottles filled with the stuff were smashed into the cars.
Dr Iqbal Choudhry of the International Center for Chemistry and Biological Sciences of University of Karachi and Professor Fahimuddin, the Dean of the Faculty of Sciences and Chemistry, both said that the lightweight Benzene is hundreds of times more flammables than petrol and is cheaply available in the city. Plus, if you take benzene and keep it in hot weather it catches fire even faster. The CFO said that he believed Benzene could have been used.
Rioters who did not have chemicals or petrol instead used bricks and stones. One man was standing with a brick in his hand trying to damage a parked car outside a residential building near the city courts. No one tried to immediately stop him but a few people tried to dissuade him. The car’s owner appeared in the balcony and pleaded: “Please do not damage it, I am coming!” he cried. “I will park it in another place.” A short while later a crowd gathered around eventually the man walked away. But with the brick.
The CFO said that in future the fire fighters would need protection as well. “I was there for the Tahir Plaza fire. I immediately called the fire tenders from the nearest fire station but the mob attacked them twice.”
A hand-out was issued from the Central Police Office Wednesday evening saying that IGP Azhar Ali Farooqui had “taken strict notice of the rioting” and patrolling would be increased. The police were ordered to immediately arrest anyone making trouble.
‘They were locked in and burnt alive!’
Text by Faraz Khan and Photo by Athar Hussain
KARACHI: At about 4:00 p.m. Tahir Plaza, which houses lawyers offices near the City Courts, was also subjected to arson and up to six bodies, including that of two woman, had to be taken out. There were conflicting reports on what happened.
“The media is witness to everything,” said the Karachi Bar Association’s Naeem Qureshi. “The mob threw petrol into the office on the sixth floor of Tahir Plaza and later they locked the gate from the outside.”
According to some reports, its main entrance was accessible and young men went in and set it on fire. The watchman switched the electricity off after there were reports that they tried to create the fire with a short circuit. No one standing outside on the street or at nearby buildings at first understood there was a fire because they were in their own panic. People were mostly in their offices as well. The police and rangers passed by and did not notice either. There was no smoke and only if one looked closely could one see flames from the windows.
Eventually, Karachi Police Chief Niaz Ahmed Siddiqui reached the scene along with the fire brigade, but the damage had been done.
The Malir Bar Association’s building was also set on fire along with Jehangir Kothari building off M.A. Jinnah Road. SHO Saddar Naeem Khan reached the scene and commented on how the people inside had not called the police first but fought with them after they arrived. No fatalities were reported from them and there were reports that the people extinguished the fires themselves as the fire brigade did not reach even three hours after. The main wooden gate was first set on fire. The people inside the building fought with the Rangers for not calling the fire brigade.
As aerial firing erupted, shops closed down across the city. All trade centers also shut down. The centre of the city was clamped down in a massive gridlock as traffic from II Chundrigar Road, MA Jinnah Road, Saddar and Clifton intersected near the defunct Hotel Metropole roundabout.
Lawyers were not violent: KBA president: KBA president Mehmoodul Hasan told Daily Times that the KBA was taking cognizance of the incident in Lahore and what happened to the former Sindh chief minister. “We are not responsible for any act of violence today,” he said. “We have done nothing.”
The attacks appeared to be coordinated and according to witnesses, as soon as the meeting ended a scuffle erupted between two groups of lawyers. Within minutes, the City Court premises was cordoned off by armed young men who took to main M.A. Jinnah Road as they pelted vehicles with stones and set others on fire.
Malir Bar Association’s Honorary Secretary Ashraf Samoon advocate said that up to 25 miscreants came to the building and started firing at members and the president. As the lawyers ran for shelter, the men torched the office and library. While fleeing the scene they also damaged parked cars and set a vehicle on fire.
The KBA’s Naeem Qureshi has claimed that his house in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, vehicle and 40 offices at Tahir Plaza were torched by activists from a political party during the riots.
The Fire brigade’s Abdul Waheed said that they did not have any information about Qureshi’s house being set on fire. Another man was killed in a shoot-out at Khudadad Colony within the jurisdiction of Brigade police station. He was taken to Civil hospital where he was identified as Nadeem Shah, 28. He was the driver of a passenger bus and had been trying to resist a mob that wanted to set his vehicle on fire.
FEARS abound that once again Karachi may become the backdrop to a theatre of blood and conflict. Even before violence erupted on Wednesday ostensibly triggered by the Sher Afgan episode there had been a sharp rise in targeted murders of political rivals in the city as over two dozen were slain in the month of March. According to law enforcement agencies, political violence flared up shortly after the Feb 18 elections to claim 25 activists of various political affiliations. Political parties such as MQM-H lost six workers, Sunni Tehrik lost four, two victims belonged to Jeay Sindh Mahaz and surprisingly, PPP and MQM, two major political stakeholders in the province did not go unscathed either. Police authorities maintain that this spate of political confrontations is unlikely to subside in the near future. This becomes all the more apparent as representatives of MQM-H dismiss official statistics, asserting that they have ‘received the bodies of 35 party workers since the polls’. The party also lays the blame for the bloodshed on the MQM, which in turn is vehemently refuted by the latter’s leaders. Although the Sindh home department maintains ‘it is more exaggerated than the ground realities’, Karachi’s political environment is becoming eerily reminiscent of the days of MQM’s bloodstained confrontation with the state; a virtual wipe out of a generation of young party faithfuls.
Last week’s climate of ‘brotherhood’ and reconciliation, which is now under serious strain, did little to assuage existing differences in the lower rungs of various political factions. The recent attacks on PML-Q leaders, particularly the incident in the Sindh Assembly, demonstrate that party leaderships have clearly failed to take their workers on board and create a culture of appeasement, or restraint, within their ranks. As party influentials were working out power-sharing formulas to protect their own stakes, they closed their eyes to a deeper malaise that plagues their representatives on the street. As a result, these long festering demons have wreaked much blood-letting. Undeniably, real solutions lie with party leaders who should make peace a priority before entering power deals. Perhaps the inclusion and consent of party workers is a clear route to general accord and until this is achieved, amity in the city will remain a major challenge.
EVERY civilised person condemns the deplorable maltreatment meted out to the former chief minister of Sindh, Arbab Ghulam Rahim, on April 7. We desperately expect Pervez Musharraf to reiterate the logic that he used after the tragic murder of Benazir Bhutto that she herself was responsible for the incident.
It would absolutely be correct in the case of Arbab Rahim to say that it was his own person and policies as chief minister that caused such resentment, frustration and anger among the people against him.
It was indeed a very regrettable incident but it, however, highlights the consequences of manipulating national institutions and thwarting all possible and lawful means of seeking redress of grievances and wrongs caused to the people either by the highhandedness of the partisan government or by the deliberate indifference of the people who wield power at their whim and in an arbitrary manner.
It is quite tragic that those were the norms during Mr Rahim’s tenure as chief minister of Sindh. The people of Pakistan, not only the citizens of Karachi, still remember the tragic massacre of innocent people on May 12, 2007 and the complete indifference of the administration at that time which was headed by Mr Rahim.
The administration even refused to investigate the matter which caused resentment and anger among the masses all over the country. It was quite sad and people still remember that the MQM never chose to boycott the Sindh government over the atrocities of May 12, and now they have rushed to boycott the assembly, which shows the priorities of the popular party of Karachi.
It was also observed, quite regrettably indeed, that even before any inquiry or investigation, the electronic media aired biased views of certain people who not only blamed rather gave their final verdict regarding the involvement of the PPP in the incident.
We expect much more responsibility from our media than any other institution because they have the greatest access to the masses, and responsibility demands that they must lay more emphasis on imparting awareness and importance of institutions instead of having resort to sensationalism. In order to avoid such incidents in future, it is the duty of every citizen, political party and institution to emphasise and ensure the proper working of institutions and neither become party nor allow anybody to thwart the working of institutions for ulterior purposes and petty gains, particularly of those institutions which redress the public grievances.
THIS is apropos of your editorial, ‘Politics of blood’ (April 10) and the chaos in Karachi of April 9, including the burning to death of at least five people.
You have observed that there have been dozens of targeted killings of political workers after the Feb 18 election. The majority of these, it may be noted, belong to the smaller parties.
One would like to ask why is it that
(a) there were no killings outside Karachi throughout the judicial crisis that began on March 9 of last year?
(b) On the evening of May 12, after nearly 50 people had died in the mayhem in Karachi and the CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry and his lawyers weren’t allowed to enter the city, President Musharraf had declared at a PML(Q) public meeting in Islamabad that his supporters had demonstrated their strength.
(c) the killings have once again occurred in Karachi – 13 have died by the time of this writing – during demonstrations in support of Dr Niazi, a man from the president’s camp.
Friday, April 18, 2008
THE metropolitan pages of Dawn (April 11) carry a photograph of ‘Flag march’ showing a big column of police vehicles boastfully passing through a thoroughfare. These flag marches are now common sight in our country.
Whenever some incidents of some serious proportion occurred, later on these marches are made to show their presence and raise the morale of forces, i.e. rangers and the police.
However, as a Pakistani I feel ashamed as these very forces are more often than not found missing. It happened on May 12, 2007 when on the roads of metropolis more than 50 innocent people were savagely killed in broad daylight, and this gory spectre was transmitted live by more than dozen local and foreign TV channels, just to stop the chief Justice of the country from addressing the Bar.
Where were these forces when on April 8 a former minister was beaten in Lahore and the very next day 11 people were brutally murdered, including six baked to death, with more than 50 vehicle torched in the business capital of Pakistan.
Had such incidents taken place in some other country, I am sure the law of the land would have taken its course and not only those involved in callous laxity taken to task but the families of victims would have been adequately compensated.
But alas in this land of pure those killed without any cause are forgotten in the expediencies of politics and those who were paid from public taxes to secure their lives and properties have the temerity to show their belated ‘raw-power’ on the road through flag marches. What a shame.
Port Coquitlam, BC
ISLAMABAD - MQM’s latest threat to sit in the opposition has a familiar ring designed to convey a message to the PPP. Its timing is intriguing. As has been the pattern of its moves in the past, the present action has some multi-dimensional motives and objectives vastly distinct from what the party has publicly stated.
The MQM move came only two days before the crucial summit meeting of the 4-party coalition that is likely to clinch the issue of deposed judges. President Musharraf has been building enormous pressure on Asif Zardari through Americans and other quarters to pre-empt this decision or at least stall the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry at any cost. The MQM’s sudden move is timed to enhance this pressure.
The PPP is also finding it difficult to accept the terms of endearment as price for MQM’s cooperation. Media reports say the MQM wants 35 per cent share in Sindh government in addition to its choice of governor. At the centre it has been seeking four plum ministries including communications and, above all, port and shipping. To neutralize Nawaz Sharif’s opposition, Altaf offered him hand of friendship after several weeks of venomous attacks. .
Ostensibly, the appointment of Shoaib Suddle as IG Police Karachi preceded earlier by a major reshuffle of police structure in Karachi appears to be the immediate trigger. The new security set-up represents a bold and serious attempt by the PPP to hold a genuine inquiry into the bloodbath of October 18 and April 9 (if possible May 12 as well). The MQM faces the threat of being exposed as a result of these investigations.
Such is the tenuous nature of the budding PPP-MQM affair that it began showing cracks within couple of days after the fantastic spectacle of bonhomie during Asif Zardari’s April 3 Nine-Zero yatra. The stirring speeches by Zardari and his new-found love Altaf Hussain had a surreal touch. Ironically, while the series of events following that visit have a sequential nexus, hardly anything has been unpredictable.
First the MQM decided to indefinitely boycott the assembly session on the flimsiest possible excuse -episode involving Arbab Rahim. Arbab must have been amused by the display of “solidarity” by his tormentors who made his life miserable as chief minister for three years. Then on an equally insignificant (howsoever deplorable) incident of maltreatment of Dr. Sher Afgan, the MQM lawyers staged a protest rally the very next day. Karachi was assigned to another day of infamy marked by charred bodies, arson, loot and anarchy.
The theatrics two days later was the fourth of its kind in one year and deceived none. Altaf Bhai excused himself from leading the MQM ( a la Aitzaz Ahsan style whom he paid tribute for risking his life to rescue Afgan). As expected the “resignation” was withdrawn in no time amid melodramatic scenes and a charged speech that implicitly acknowledged responsibility for the April 9 carnage. Zaradri again contacted Altaf and resumed negotiations for power-sharing in Sindh.
Everything has been scripted and choreographed with single-minded intent to thwart the people’s verdict of February 18 and avert the inevitable “minus one” denouement predicted by Aitzaz Ahsan. For this purpose the choreographer, who justified the heinous crimes in Karachi as a reaction to Sher Afgan episode, considers it imperative to drive a wedge between Zardari and Nawaz Sharif for which the former is being offered tantalizing options and power permutations.
In a command performance, the MQM responded generously to Asif Zardari’s request to withdraw Dr. Farooq Sattar as opposition’s candidate to contest prime minister’s election. Next day the PMl-Q joined to give a “unanimous” vote of confidence to Yousaf Raza Gilani. There were pious expression of extending “unconditional” support to the PPP in the larger national interests and reconciliation.
But MQM’s prominent leader Babar Ghori spilled the beans within hours of the vote. During discussion on a TV channel, Ghori noted that the 249 votes polled by speaker Dr. Fahmida Riaz included 91 from the PML-N leaving 158 votes which are not enough to elect the prime minister. “To free the PPP of dependence on Nawaz Sharif’s vote, we decided to support its candidate.” This was the strategy Musharraf had pursued immediately after the elections but failed because Zardari was shrewd enough to sense the outrage he would have caused in the entire country by aligning with pro-Musharraf parties.
He was then blackmailed by the threat of Amin Fahim group chipping away a dozen or so PPP members to form a government in collaboration with the MQM, the PML-Q, PML-F etc. But this was not 2002 and any such move would have had terrible backlash in rural Sindh where people had avenged Ms. Bhutto’s murder by voting her party to power despite selected rigging. The strategy was changed accordinly.
I asked a veteran anti-PPP Sindhi leader as to who delivered MQM to Zardari, his spontaneous response was:”General Musharraf’. Zardari’s motives to woo the MQM were obvious: first, to prevent a nexus with Fahim and secondly to buy peace in Karachi and other cities. It makes an eminent sense that political forces representing rural and urban Sindh must coalesce to end years of hatred and ethnic prejudices. This policy was adopted by Benazir in 1988 when she co-opted MQM in the coalition at the centre and in Sindh. But the MQM proved a Trojan Horse and stabbed her within 9 months by supporting the no-confidence motion at the behest of Ishaq and army chief.
The much-trumpeted MQM “mandate” has some disturbing features. Before it suffered a serious set back last May by blatantly supporting Musharraf siding with Musharraf against lawyers, the MQM was ambitiously projecting itself as a national party. But May 12 outrage pushed the MQM back to its original narrow-based ethnic and linguistic appeal based on hatred and tainted by violence and coercive tactics. The boycott by Jamaat Islami and Sunni Tehrik left the field wide open for the MQM landslide victory buffeted by state patronage and enormous financial and administrative resources.
There is strong possibility that the MQM will soon resume its contacts with the PPP and sort out differences. This will, however, be part of the larger strategy of its mentor Musharraf to oust Nawaz Sharif from the coalition.
KARACHI, April 17: Samples collected from the Tahir Plaza crime scene of arson have been sent for a chemical analysis by police, it has been learnt.
If tests are carried out fairly, the results may help ascertain the nature of the inflammable material used in the arson attacks on April 9, a senior police officer said.
Nine people were killed, six of them burnt to death, in acts of arson and killing committed on April 9 following a clash between two groups of lawyers on the premises of the City Courts.
Police have failed to arrest any of the arsonists, neither at the crime scene nor in the limits of the Risala and Preedy police stations, where most of the damage was done.
The incidents coincided with a session of the newly-elected Sindh assembly, where a sizable strength of police force was deployed on security duties.
On April 9, only two suspects were rounded up by police in the Ferozabad police limits. The two did not have any party affiliation but were in possession of TT pistols, a police officer said.
However, sources said the two suspects did have political affiliation and were forcing closure of markets in the Society area.
Police said the suspects were not in any way related with the April 9 violence. “They happened to be carrying pistols and got arrested on that particular day,” said a senior police officer.
As many as 14 FIRs were registered in connection with the incidents of April 9 at six different police stations. Fourteen FIRs pertained to four murders, seven were in connection with rioting and two about a robbery.
Well-placed sources in the police department told Dawn that Risala and Preedy police did round up several arsonists on April 9, but they soon released the suspects.
“We have sent the samples collected from the gutted rooms of the Tahir Plaza for a chemical analysis to the office of the Chemical Examiner, but one cannot rely on the results issued by that lab,” an officer said.
Six persons, including two women, were burnt alive in the sixth-floor office of Advocate Altaf Abbasi, who was also killed in the arson.
A subsequent FIR (78/2008) was registered at the Risala police station under Sections 147/148/149/324/302 R/W 7A ATA. The FIR was lodged on behalf of the state by Sub-Inspector Waheed Iqbal of the Risala police station.
The six victims, who happened to be in Room 616 of Tahir Plaza on that day were later identified as Advocate Aftab Abbasi, Syed Dawar Ali Rizvi, Syed Danish Akhtar, Basit Mehmood, Razia Batool and Sobia Raza.
Eyewitness accounts of April 9 suggested that conventional methods of arson were not employed on that particular day, rather the arsonist used powder or some liquid for setting fire to around 50 vehicles and for torching the plaza.
Faculty member of Karachi University’s chemistry department Dr Nasiruddin told Dawn that there were many chemical compounds available in the market which could be used in arson where the conventional method of petrol was not required.
He said if a liquid was used in arson, it could be a combination of a flammable solvent and white phosphorus. If only powder was used, a combination of any compound with white phosphorus or only white phosphorus was enough to ignite a fire, Dr Nasiruddin explained.
A senior police officer, seeking anonymity, told Dawn that the Board of Revenue office fire was also caused by the same type of power or chemical.
An inquiry report has already suggested that the fire was deliberate and was not accidental.
Out of the 14 FIRs, there are eight in which the complainants have stated the number of attackers involved in the arson attacks or robbery.
In FIR 204/2008 under Section 147,148,149, 435 and 324 at Preedy police station in which minibuses (PE-3336 and PE-6076) were involved, the complainants stated that 10 to 12 unknown men set fire to their vehicles.
In FIR 77/2008 under Sections 147, 148, 149, 435 and 427, registered at the Risala police station for nine vehicles, complainant Sub-Inspector Idress Bangash stated that the arson was carried out by 30 to 35 persons.
In another FIR, however, the number of suspects in arson attacks varied from 20 to 25, 15 to 20, 10 to 12, 8 to 10, and so on.
The FIR which specified the number of attackers suggested that the attackers were working in organized groups on April 9, said a police officer.“It’s not for the first time that such techniques have been used in arson. In the events following the death of Benazir Bhutto on Dec 27 last year such combustible compounds were used in arson attacks,” he added.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
A repeat telecast of May 12
March 20, 2008
By Pulse Report
Armed men were pulling hair of some women carrying their infants. Some were being dragged on the road as several rowdy women and men were throwing rotten tomatoes and eggs at them. A group of armed youths was hammering their rival women and a few men with sticks and TT pistols. Riot police stood guard on the venue to ensure full security to the armed rioters to do their business with impunity. That was not all. The police arrested two of the critically injured men and handed them over to the rioters, who took them half a kilometre away, and riddled their bodies with bullets in broad daylight. One may think, this all occurred in a far-flung village of Dera Ghazi Khan, or Mianwali.
But this is neither Dera Ghazi Khan, nor Mianwali. This is Karachi, once known as the city of lights. This was, undoubtedly, the repeat telecast of May 12 carnage, but the only difference was that this time it all went unreported. This gory incident took place outside Karachi Press Club on March 12, when a group of 30 to 40 female activists of Afaq Ahmed-led Mohajir Qaumi Movement, a splinter faction of Altaf-Hussein-led Muttehida Quami Movement, gathered to protest against detention of their chairman and restoration of judiciary. The ill-fated women would think that the results of Feb 18 elections had changed the country's scenario, therefore they could exercise their fundamental right to assemble freely. But they forgot that there is no change in Karachi's atmosphere.
As soon as the female activists of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (commonly known as Haqiqi), most of them veiled in traditional Burqa assembled outside Karachi Press Club, a group of 60 to 70 Muttehida female workers, and 30 to 40 male workers, led by the MQM (A) Burns Road Sector In Charge Fayaz Khan and escorted by the city government's newly formed community police attacked the protesters with batons and pistols. The Muttehida activists were brought to the press club in the vehicles of community police, which later also helped them beat Haqiqi women.
A community policeman was so furious that he continued to drag a Haqiqi woman activist carrying her infant despite repeated requests by the newsmen. Citizen circles have already expressed their concern over establishment of the community police, which consists of workers of Muttehida Qaumi Movement. The female Muttehida activists were fully prepared to humiliate their fellow colleagues. They were carrying baskets filled with rotten tomatoes, and eggs. Chanting slogans ' Jeay Altaf", "Altaf Hussein our Leader", "terrorists go away", and so on, they started throwing eggs and tomatoes on Haqiqi female workers. Some of the Muttehida females went a step further, and started pulling hair and Burqas of Haqiqi women. Some of the infants carried by Haqiqi women fell on the road amid hue and cry.
The area in front of the press club presented a scene of a battle field as the Muttehida men jumped into the fray and joined their female colleagues to beat up and drag the Haqiqi women on the road. The most lamentable part of the story was that dozens of police personnel led by TPO Clifton, Asif Aijaz Shaikh, remained present there but did not intervene to avert the vandalism. A critically injured man fell on the bonnet of a car. Some of the newsmen who were covering the event, moved to help him out, however, the TPO Clifton wearing sun glasses, and a neat and clean starched police uniform, stopped them from doing that. "This is none of your business.
You are here only to cover the event", Mr Shaikh reportedly told a senior journalist who diverted his attention towards some serious injured women and men. "We have no orders to intervene", Mr Shaikh frigidly replied. Police sources told weekly Pulse that IG Sindh Azhar Farooqi, who had superceded various senior police officers and was appointed as Sindh police chief on the pressure of MQM, issued orders to the police to provide full security to the rioters instead of the victims. It is to be recorded that Mr Farooqi as CCPO Karachi had ordered the police to remain inside the police stations following widespread violence in the metropolis after assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007. In recognition of his "commendable" performance, he was promoted to the IG rank. "Nothing special has happened. It's just a routine affair in Karachi", the IG Sindh told newsmen in reply to a question about abduction and later killing of four Haqiqi workers.
Two of the deceased were abducted from outside the press club with the help of police. Two other workers were kidnapped from different parts of Karachi, and were later shot dead. The commotion continued for an hour as some of the Haqiqi women and men managed to escape the scene, while others were either arrested by the police or held hostage by the rioters.
The rioters also held hostage a driver of News One TV channel, who was waiting for his crew members outside press club. "They took me to the basement of Sidco Center (a nearby building) where some 10 persons were already held hostage. They started beating me up alleging that I had brought Haqiqi workers to the press club for demonstration,” the driver told newsmen upon his release. "After being satisfied that I am a mere driver, they let me go and threatened that if I inform anyone about what happened to me, I will be responsible for the dire consequences,” the driver added. The rioters whisked two critically injured Haqiqi activists, Shafiq and Naveed, away with them, and later their bodies were found lying outside YMCA building. Eyewitnesses say that the critically injured activists were first arrested by the community police personnel, who took them in their mobile.
The injured activists were later handed over to the rioters who riddled their bodies with bullets without wasting any time. The story didn't end here. Now it was journalists’ turn. After "dealing" with the Haqiqi activists, the rioters turned towards reporters, cameramen and photographers of different newspapers and TV channels who were covering the event. The rioters started beating up cameramen and reporters, and snatched their cameras. They deleted all the photos, and footage, and forced the newsmen to run away from the scene. The newsmen requested the TPO Clifton for help, however he remained silent and let the rioters manhandle them. They tried to kidnap a senior journalist, Laiq Yousafzai, who tried to stop the rioters from beating up the journalists and women. "My only sin was that I told them (rioters) that Has Altaf Hussein taught you to beat up the journalists? This was my only sin.
They started beating me up, and tried to kidnap me. I, however, managed to enter the press club premises, and remained there for the next six hours", Mr Yousafzai told newsmen. The armed assailants continued to siege the press club building for next four hours. Despite repeated attempts to contact IG and CCPO Karachi, the police did not act against the armed men. They withdrew the siege only after the MQM leadership was approached. Later in the night, the two MQM MPAs, Askari Taqvi and Anees Qureshi arrived at the press club, and expressed their party's disassociation with the armed rioters. They, however, could not reply to a question asked by a senior journalist that "if they didn't belong to you party then what propels you to come here and explain your position?" That was not it. On Friday night, March 14, eight armed men barged into the press club and asked about KPC President Najeeb Ahmed, KUJ President Khursheed Tanvir, Secretary Khursheed Abbasi, and other senior journalists who had delivered speeches against the incident at a protest meeting on the very next day of the incident. Earlier, on March 10, the MQM activists abducted six journalists when they were returning after covering a press conference of Mohajir Qaumi Movement in Gulistan-e-Jauhar area.
They took them to an under-construction building and kept them hostage for 45 minutes, deleted all photos and footage of the cameramen and then allowed them to go. "It looked like a party office located inside an apartment building. But I cannot tell you about that specifically. I asked a youth about his identity, who introduced himself as Ahmer, but didn't tell about his party affiliation,” one of the journalists who were taken hostage told reporters.
He said the youths asked the photographers and the cameramen to hand them over their cameras so that they could delete photographs and footage. "They deleted the photos and films, and returned our cameras, besides offering us tea,” he maintained. Another photographer said that he tried to persuade the captors not to delete their films and photos as various others had also covered the event. "But they told us that this was none of their business,” he added. TRAGIC PART: The tragic part of the above-mentioned incidents is that the electronic media, which dubs raining as breaking news, chose to completely black out the event. What happened on May 12, everybody witnessed through cameras, but this time nothing like that happened. Presumably, the rioters were fully aware of the fact this time. As soon as the fuss commenced at press club, the TV channels received threats by telephone that if they dare to act in line with May 12, they would be directly attacked this time. Mohajir women were being beaten up and humiliated by Mohajirs, but the otherwise powerful electronic media appeared to be so tamable before the Haq Parasts. This complete blackout of attack and abduction of journalists suggest that whoever has the power, can subjugate the media. Is the media supposed to say Kalma-e-Haq only against weak groups? This oblivious attitude of the APNS and the CPNE towards such a lamentable incident, which is a direct attack on freedom of press, raises some serious questions. It is so deplorable that even a single statement has not so far been issued either by the CPNE office-bearers or the spokesman.
These organizations should have convened an emergency meeting and issued a statement to express solidarity with our fellow journalists, while condemning this gory incident and advising the MQM to desist from such tactics to gag the media. One wonders if these organizations cannot stand alongside our fellow journalists at this testing time, then what is their purpose ? Are they meant to act only against weak, and bow to the powerful groups? Senior journalists think that this is very dangerous trend, because now all the groups will try to subjugate the media by force. They have come to know that media can express itself only against the weak.
as i had been pointing out during pre-election debate that MQM would use terror tactics to rig elections and terrorize and intimidate its opponents and karachiites , European Union election observation mission also noted that MQM adopted its typical style of violence and use of force during run up to elections and on election day, they also noted serious discrepancies and abnormally high voter turn out in several constituencies in which Q league and MQM won..
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
@Metropole wrote :"Guys, I have reported Teeth Maestro aka d0ct0r and Adnan Siddiqi for advocating murder in Karachi… "
Did you reported when Altaf bai's terrorists and MQM's footsoldiers murdered 50+ people on 12th may ?
Did you reported when MQM's arsonist burnt PIDC building twice on sundays?
Did you reported when MQM's terrorist beat women protesters outside press club and kidnapped/tortured journalists and protesters?*1*2*3
Did you reported when MQM's terrorist sent bullet filled envelopes to journalists to warn them not to write against MQM?*4*5*6
Did you reported when MQM's arsonists burnt Board of Revenue building at sindh Secretariat?*7
Did you reported when MQM's terrorist aid committee burnt and killed 10 people(7 burnt alive/3 shot dead) including 2 women ?*8
DID YOU? No you didn't...
you better start reporting.. i am simply advocating against brutal terrorists and arsonists, unless you are NOT one of them then you should not be feeling the heat..
*1 A repeat telecast of May 12
*2 Clash outside KPC leaves protesters injured
*3 Muttahida (MQM altaf bai) slammed over violence outside KPC
*4 12 journalists receive death threats from MQM
*5 Pakistani journalists receive bulletsthreat
*6 AFP and AP journalists are left envelopes with bullets
*7 Secretariat fire caused by arson, says report
*8 some of the events of 9 April arson and killings by MQM's terrorist were caught on cctv cameras(installed by ex Karachi bar president after MQM's mob had ransacked a plaque honouring CJ and lawyer movement outside KBA's office at citycourt some time back),so if ever an independent inquiry is initiated then those terrorist(we all already know who they are) can easily be nailed ..