By Saeed Qureshi
It appears that now the big fish both erstwhile and in power have started feeling the pinch of the anti-corruption drive pedaled by the Rangers in Karachi. It is a known fact that the MQM and PPP alternately ruling in Karachi have been milking the national exchequer and encouraging the unrelenting spate of lawlessness and crimes for years now.
With the backing and support of the power wielders like ministers and senior government officials, the crimes gangs have a free hand to rob and kill the businessmen, the traders and industrialists without any let or hindrance. From unlawful sale of water to extortion of money from the shopkeepers and robbing the banks had the tacit support and patronage of the stalwarts of PPP and MQM.
Additionally the stray gangs of the religious lot, professional hardened criminals, the bounty hunters of all hues and shades also joined this mayhem to blackmail and harass the common people as well as the business classes for payments of extortion money and forcible seizure of the properties. Those who dithered or resisted were put to death, maimed or brutalized in other manners.
The police and normal law enforcement agencies like police failed to curb or bridle the escalating crime. Rather many members of the police and intelligence agencies had to lose their lives in combating the outlaws that are having a state within a state and have the tacit cover from the power wielders. One can imagine further loss of life and disruption of business in Karachi if the Rangers had not stepped in and rein in the serial killers and tiger happy murderers.
While the successive incumbent provincial governments in Sindh have utterly failed because of their connivance in proliferation of lawlessness and exhibiting scant concern of the deteriorating law and order and public peace, it was an overdue decision to hand over Karachi to well trained Rangers to combat and eliminate the perpetrators of crime, sabotage, lawlessness and killing sprees. The Rangers have been doing a highly commendable and historic job restoring peace and order in a city that had turned into a haven for the enemies of the country and that had sinister motives to inflict harm to the economic and industrial activities at the behest of the internal traitors or the external enemies.
While crime incidence has drastically come down in Karachi it is imperative that this purge of the crime mongers is continued till Karachi is cleansed of the crime. Now the Rangers have started apprehending the crooks and thieves of those who massed money through misuse of power in allotting property, real estate and also in doling out ghost jobs. The massive funds for development projects for health and education and development have been diverted and grossly misused by the officialdom and bureaucracy. The corruption and lack of accountability and the misuse of powers have been rampant not only in Karachi but elsewhere in the country.
The sources of the inflow of unhindered money from pilferage and sale of water, from robberies and looting banks and the common people and the business classes are now drying up. And that is why the leaders of the PPP and the MQM are questioning the role of the Rangers.
The statement of Asif Zardari that he has a long list of the corrupt army generals and that the army should stop teasing them is as surprising as it is foolish in the prevailing circumstances. This would rather impel the army to move with greater speed and tempo to unearth the sleazy characters within the government and the politics who encouraged and benefited from the years of lawlessness and breakdown of the law and order making Karachi and the rest of country a kind of hell and the most unsafe.
It is good that Mian Nawaz Sharif has put off his scheduled meeting with belligerent Asif Zardari which was aimed at winning the support of the incumbent federal government for putting up a combined confrontational posture against the armed forces. Had the meeting taken place the army would have gotten a wrong message. This could have also undermined the sincerity of the government towards the army action in Karachi and in northern areas against the militants?
The other dimension could be that by seeing the party in power and PPP in league, the army could have thought of martial law which would have been the worst scenario for Pakistan and continuation of democracy. It can be the most desirable development for India and internal enemies. In that situation Pakistan would have gone back to square one with a throwback to Zia and Musharraf’s military eras scuttling democracy and people empowerment.
As such the Rangers and the armed force should keep on performing their monumental and historic role in clearing Pakistan both from the hardened criminal gangs and corrupt elements as well the religious militants waging their bloody war against the people and state of Pakistan.
The Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah is a weak and dysfunctional person and his letter to the DG Rangers not to exceed the mandate is a resonance of the Zardari statement about the corrupt army generals. Since the Sindh provincial government of PPP would be reluctant to support Rangers for known reasons, the only viable way-out for the Rangers is to continue its operations is to declare governor rule with a limited mandate in that troubled province. That change would give a free hand to the Rangers to continue its operations that are aimed at saving Pakistan and Karachi from outlaws.
In the meantime two former prime minister of Pakistan Raja Pervez Ashraf and Yousuf Raza Gilani have voluntarily resigned from their positions in the Pakistan People’s Party that demonstrates the internal rift within the party on ill-timed, imprudent and provocative statement of Mr. Zardari
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat. His articles can also be read at his blog Upright Opinion.