Altaf Hussain’s 14 Points
In the wake of high spate of target killings, kidnappings for ransom and extortion in Karachi, and Supreme Court’s findings based on JIT report that militant wings of all the political parties coupled with banned extremist groups were involved in the grisly practices, when the federal and Sindh governments decided to launch a joint Rangers-Police operation in Karachi to control the menace which had claimed over 8000 lives since 2008, all political parties including the MQM consented. However, when even-handed operation was launched in September 2013 and large numbers of arrests were made and weapons recovered, no other party except the MQM raised objections. Whenever MQM affiliated criminals were nabbed, the MQM leadership made hue and cry and hurled threats to paralyse the city, or to go their way. They expressed lack of confidence in the Rangers and repeatedly urged the Army to step in.
Besides emergence of People’s Aman Committee in Lyari under Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, another aspect which disturbed the MQM was presence of large numbers of Pashtuns in Karachi, which they see as a threat to their total monopoly over the port city. Their fears were compounded when Taliban started pouring into Karachi from 2009 onwards, settling in Pashtun localities and gradually challenging the supremacy of MQM. Not knowing how to deal with them, Operation Zarb-e-Azb launched in North Waziristan (NW) on June 15, 2014 delighted the MQM the most. It took out a huge procession in support of the Army. Altaf again pressed Gen Raheel Sharif to extend the operation to Karachi as well and even suggested that the Army should takeover power. This was in total contrast to his earlier stance when he used to object to Army’s intervention in Karachi and blamed the agencies for all the wrongs in the city. The Army has this time not confined its operation to NW only, but has conducted hundreds of raids in other trouble spots as well to prevent the much speculated blowback in major urban centres. This strategy has so far worked very well.
Rangers-Police operation was also geared up and several reforms undertaken to remove the anomalies in registration of FIRs, vulnerability of the witnesses, investigators, prosecutors and judges. PPO was issued and Rangers were given enhanced powers. Much of the suggestions were given by DG Rangers Maj Gen Rizwan Akhtar, who after taking part in Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan (SW) got well-versed with urban terrorism and sectarianism. He described political interference and politicization of police as biggest handicaps. He came in the bad books of MQM since he kept his distance from politicians and concentrated his entire energies towards reigning in the target killers and extortionists and produced pleasing results. His highly successful stints in turbulent SW and Karachi earned him the third star and prized appointment of DG ISI.
The MQM once again kicked up a storm after one of its Sector offices was raided by the Rangers on September 24, 2014 when its petrol was fired upon from inside the office. 23 workers were arrested among whom 3 were identified as target killers and 12 as absconders. 12 were set free after interrogation. On the same day the police arrested three suspected killers of Zahra Shahid who were MQM activists. Murder weapon was also recovered. On 25th, MQM staged many sit-ins in Karachi to protest the detention of their workers and demanded their immediate release. Agitated Altaf issued an impish 14-point questionnaire to Gen Raheel Sharif on September 26th in which apart from his ire against the Rangers, he didn’t forget me. None of the points make much sense.
His first leading question was about the fate of 41 workers of MQM who went missing during Rangers led operation; 2nd point was concerning deaths of arrested MQM activists in custody of Rangers and as to why no action had been taken against torturers; 3rd point was as to why raids are conducted only on MQM offices/houses when other parties also have militant wings? 4th allegation was as to why no action was taken by the Army against Gen Asif Nawaz who had tried to eliminate and divide the MQM? 5th point hpw was that the UN or GHQ should conduct an inquest to establish the veracity of false Jinnahpur maps recovered from MQM offices by Brig Asif Haroon. 6th; why the Army has failed to trace the killers of 15000 MQM workers killed from 1992 till today?
7th point; he queried whether the Army is symbol of unity or it divides the nation on ethnic/regional basis? 8th; why literature/videos/photos captured in 1992 operation have not been returned to the MQM? 9th; MQM was the only party which took out a million people march in support of Operation Zarb-e-Azb and yet it is being persecuted. 10th; why the Rangers took no action against the PAT and PTI workers when they attacked PTV and other offices in Islamabad? 11th; why Rangers officers refused to meet MQM MPA Faisal Sabzwari after they raided the MQM office on 24th? 12th; the Army should elucidate what should the Muhajirs do to cultivate concord/soft corner in their hearts for them? 13th; he questioned the unchecked sit-ins in Islamabad for over 40 days. 14th; he asked sarcastically whether the Army/Rangers/Police will react if the MQM decides to stage a sit-in in Red Zone.
On the following day Altaf made a telephonic address to his captive followers in which he recounted the above points. He again performed the ritual of Jinnahpur maps to project MQM innocent. While doing so he overlooks his policy of aggression and violence, which has not only taken the glitter out of the cosmopolitan city but has made it the city of blood and tears where ten to twelve innocent people are gunned down by unknown target killers daily. No one is safe from extortionists and car/motorcycle/mobile snatchers.
To claim that the ire of Rangers is directed against the MQM only is travesty of truth. In the year long targeted and intelligence-based operation, 3696 raids have so far been conducted, 6835 suspects arrested and 5214 weapons seized. Out of these, 2506 raids were launched against banned groups, 4936 suspects were detained and 3742 weapons seized. 403 raids were conducted against TTP and its affiliates from whom 619 weapons were recovered and 760 suspects were apprehended. People’s Aman Committee (affiliated with PPP) was targeted 396 times resulting in seizure of 591 weapons and arrest of 539 suspects. MQM offices were raided 372 times, 560 suspects were detained and 241 weapons confiscated. Against ANP, 18 raids were carried out, 21 were arrested and 40 suspects were arrested.
Having remained in power in Sindh since 1987 and claiming to have control over 95% of Karachi, it is 4th in order as far as raids and arrests are concerned. Majority of the target killers arrested belong to MQM. Some among them are serial-killers. Yet it grieves and screams the most. It forgets that prior to emergence of MQM, Karachi was peaceful and popularly known as city of lights. There are reasons to believe that to gain control over the port city, the MQM leadership attached militant wing in its structure, established no-go areas, promoted culture of extortion, dead bodies in gunny bags, terrorism, target killing and blackmailing. Why does it desire the law enforcement agencies to target all but spare MQM when it is major part of the problem?
After consistently targeting the military establishment and the agencies and holding them responsible for all the ills in Karachi, Altaf developed fancy for revolution to get rid of decayed Jagirdari system. He also drummed up the threat of Taliban and directed his activists to get prepared to confront Talibanization. Restoration of city government was his next battle with PPP. Rise of PTI in Karachi added to his anxiety. For the first time, another political party succeeded in capturing sizeable votes from within MQM strongholds. He then trained his guns on the Rangers describing them as anti-Muhajir. At the same time he expressed his deep love for the Army and went to the extent of inviting it to take over. His love affair seems to have waned for now he accuses the Army to be pushing the MQM against the wall. While he is friendly with Tahirul Qadri, his newest target is Bilawal. His somersaults are incomprehensible.