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Mission Creep: Pakistani military’s crackdown on Karachi

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

International news agency, Reuters, has come out with a revealing report disclosing the advancement of Pakistan military towards the largest city, Karachi as a ‘creeping coup’.

The latest and, some say, the boldest attempt, made by the military towards capturing control from the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) in the port city of Karachi, is being seen as renewed foray into the civilian life of the country.

The campaign is being spearheaded by the head of Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Rizwan Akhtar.

Remarking on the ongoing takeover and the perpetrated attack on the MQM party, an official close to the ISI chief said, “There is a quiet, creeping takeover of Karachi by the military. Karachi is just too big … too much land, too much business, resources. No one party will be allowed to rule Karachi from now on.”

The military clampdown on the largest and wealthiest city of Pakistan began in 2013 when a spate of murders took place with the disfigured bodies being dumped in the alleys.

While officially the operation was aimed at eliminating criminals and militants, most people see it as a planned attack on MQM.

Straddling and stamping over MQM and weakening the grip of exiled leader, Altaf Hussain, over the party would ensure an easy playfield for parties close to the military, such as Imran Khan-led Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

Moreover, with the introduction of military courts to tighten stranglehold over the judiciary, foreign policy and national security, the military is trying to leverage Pakistan’s economic hub.

Karachi hosts the stock exchange, a giant port, central bank and accounts for more than half of the national revenues of Pakistan.

However, Pakistan army’s hawkish movements can prove to be counterproductive, particularly by making tougher and harder proposed rapprochement with India.

The army accuses the MQM of heinous crimes such as targeted killings, kidnappings and racketeering in Karachi.

According to the police estimates, more than 2,500 hundred murders took place in the city in 2013.

Even as the army levels allegations against the party, the MQM vehemently denies the charges saying that it has cooperated with the rangers in the past but will not allow the army to dismantle the party.

Meanwhile, senior government officials say that the civilian administration has been sidelined in Karachi and decisions are being taken by the Rangers and the chief military commander of the Sindh province.

As per the officials, the government was not consulted while lodging the complaint against Hussain and initiating the raid.

MQM’s leaders, on their part, blame the military for unfairly targeting them by launching a campaign of mass arrests and political “disappearances.”

At least 36 MQM workers have been killed so far and more than 2600 arrested.

The military, however, wants to completely annihilate the “militant” party.

All would be well if only the exiled leader, Altaf Hussain, steps down. An official close to the army said, “If Altaf Hussain steps down, the MQM will live on; if he doesn’t, the party will go down with him.”

A senior MQM leader, who did not want to criticize Hussain openly said, “We have built this party with our sweat and blood. Now a man living in exile is intent on destroying it.”

Irrespective of the critical opinions and the army onslaught, the by-elections in Karachi on Thursday handed down a comfortable victory for the MQM party.

In the wake of such conflicting developments, Hussain remains defiant saying, “The people and Altaf Hussain have a special relationship which cannot be shaken.”

Next Story

India Says Pakistan’s Links with Pulwama Attack Clear For All to See

He said while there are claims to offer dialogue from Pakistan, it continues to shelter terror outfits

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Arun Jaitley
"The most favoured nation status which has been granted to Pakistan stands withdrawn.", says Jaitley. Pixabay

India has rejected Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua’s claims denying her country’s links to the Pulwama terror attack, saying that JeM, which claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday, is based in Pakistan, and the “links are clear and evident and for all to see”.

The External Affairs Ministry spokesperson on Friday termed as “preposterous” the demand for an investigation, saying there is a video of the suicide bomber declaring himself a member of the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

The spokesperson said India has not seen any constructive approach from Pakistan on bilateral relations and it has been sheltering terrorists and terror organisations such as JeM. He said Islamabad has not taken any action against such groups despite international demands.

India also demanded that Pakistan take immediate and verifiable action against terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control to create a conducive atmosphere in the region free of terror.

The spokesperson’s response came over Pakistan Foreign Secretary’s briefing rejecting Pakistan’s involvement in the terror attack on a paramilitary convoy in Jammu and Kashmir that killed at least 45 troopers. Janjua met envoys of P-5 countries late on Friday.

The spokesperson said JeM has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the attack was a matter of “grave concern” and it had been condemning “heightened acts of violence in the (Kashmir) Valley”. Pixabay

“The organisation and its leadership are located in Pakistan. LeT and other terror groups have welcomed the news of the attack. These groups are also based in Pakistan. Pakistan cannot claim that it is unaware of their presence and their activities.

“They have not taken any action against these groups despite international demands, especially against groups and individuals proscribed by the UN and other countries. The links to Pakistan are clear and evident for all to see. Its own Ministers have shared the same podium with UN proscribed terrorists,” the spokesperson said.

He said there was audio-visual material linking JeM to the terror attack.

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“The demand for an investigation is preposterous when there is a video of the suicide bomber declaring himself a member of the JeM. There are also other audio-visual and print material linking JeM to the terrorist attack. We have therefore no doubt that the claim is firmly established,” the spokesperson said.

He said while there are claims to offer dialogue from Pakistan, it continues to shelter terror outfits.

“We have not seen any constructive approach from Pakistan on relations with India. What we have noticed however, are claims to offer dialogue on the one hand, while sponsoring and sheltering terrorists and terrorist organisations such as JeM on the other,” the spokesperson added. (IANS)