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Karachi shoot-on-sight order issued amid wave of killings
1,000 additional FC troops sent to help quell recent wave of violence
By Javed Mahmood
KARACHI – The Sindh government issued orders to shoot on sight anybody spotted committing murder or fomenting violence in Karachi, and the federal government deployed an additional 1,000 Frontier Constabulary (FC) troops as more than 85 people have died in targeted killings since July 5, officials and relief workers said July 7.
The announcement came after a meeting on the law-and-order situation in Karachi late July 7. Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah directed police and Rangers to shoot criminals for disturbing the peace or killing.
At the request of the Sindh government, the Interior Ministry sent 1,000 FC troops to Karachi July 8. They will help police and Rangers control the violence, Waqar Mehdi, spokesman for the Chief Minister House, said.
The government has asked law enforcement agencies to take strict action against miscreants, regardless of their political and ethnic affiliation, he said.
“On Friday ambulances shifted about 10 dead bodies to various hospitals for autopsy,” Muhammad Ramzan Chhipa, chief executive of the Chhipa Welfare Trust, told Central Asia Online.
The latest wave of violence began July 5, Chhipa said. Twenty people were killed July 8 alone in Baldia Town, Ranchhor Line, Kharadar and other areas, according to media.
President Asif Ali Zardari has issued strict orders to punish the miscreants, Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Central Asia Online. Malik rushed to Karachi late July 7 to assist the provincial government in restoring peace and to talk with general and ethnically based political parties.
“(Law enforcement agencies) started surgical operations in different areas on Friday and rounded up 90 miscreants,” Malik said. Security personnel will ensure peace within a day, he predicted.
The number of suspects arrested grew to 133 by the end of July 8, according to media.
Earlier that day, some elements were deliberately destabilising Karachi to achieve their goals, Malik said.
Rangers and police will continue searches to arrest killers and seize illegal weapons, he said.
The government will hold talks with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami National Party and other stakeholders in Karachi to end bloodshed and to promote brotherhood, he said.
“We have increased deployment of police, Rangers and (FC) in the violence-hit areas to improve the law-and-order situation,” Wajid Ali Durrani, Inspector General of Sindh Police, told Central Asia Online.
MQM postpones protest rally
MQM has postponed a protest scheduled for July 8 in order to reduce tension in the city, MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi told Central Asia Online.
“MQM postponed it in the national interest,” Rizvi said.
MQM is ready to support the government and law enforcement in ending violence in the city, Rizvi said.
Shortage of fuel, consumer items
The Karachi population is facing a shortage of fuel and consumer items as petrol pumps and markets close in response to the slayings, said Turab Shah, a resident of Korangi, one of the troubled areas in the city. Shoppers are scrambling to buy essential items, but shops and markets are closed, he said.
“Pakistan suffers a billion dollars’ (Rs. 86 billion) worth of losses in one day’s strike in Karachi, the business hub of the country,” Majyd Aziz, ex-president of the Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told Central Asia Online.
Businesses lose money and the government loses tax revenue when law and order deterioriate, he pointed out.
Karachi’s multi-national companies and traders supply the government with its biggest source of tax revenue and they also provide livelihoods for thousands of skilled and unskilled workers, Aziz said.
“We have repeatedly urged the government to ensure long-term peace in Karachi through deweaponisation and tough action against the outlaws,” he said, adding the government was reluctant to take those steps, since it feared losing the support of both general and ethnically based political parties.