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By Javed Mahmood
KARACHI – All the general and ethnically based political parties in Karachi joined a peace mission launched by the Sindh government in the last week of July, officials and politicians told Central Asia Online August 2. The campaign seeks to end hatred among different factions, curb killings and make the city peaceful.
More than 58 slayings have occurred in Karachi in the past five days, according to officials.
Unanimity for peace
Leading parties in Karachi – such as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami National Party (ANP), Jamaat-i-Islami and Sunni Tehreek – have not only offered their support but also joined rallies to voice their disgust with violence and the city’s political and ethnic rifts, Shazia Marri, Sindh minister for power and a member of the peace mission’s committee, told Central Asia Online.
“We are holding meetings with the leaders of different parties in Karachi to get their support,” she said.
The political and ethnic rift in Karachi has led to violence and murders, Marri said, adding the peace campaign would ultimately make Karachi peaceful.
President Asif Ali Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and other key leaders initiated the peace mission with support from the leading parties and many of their workers, she said.
“MQM chief Altaf Hussain urged the government to launch efforts to revive peace in the city,” Haider Abbas Rizvi, a senior MQM leader, told Central Asia Online August 2. “Our leaders and thousands of workers have participated in peace rallies organised in the city in the past few days.”
The unity shown by thousands of participants in the Karachi pro-peace rallies shows that all the general and ethnically based parties want peace, he said, adding that Karachi, the financial capital of Pakistan, must be purged of violence.
The government should take strong action against the perpetrators, he said.
The ANP will support government efforts to restore peace and the party has suggested an even-handed search for illegal weapons and criminals involved in the murders, ANP Sindh President Shahi Syed said.
Syed called for the government to enforce shoot-on-sight orders to bring about peace.
The continuation of killings despite the political parties’ unanimity in endorsing the peace mission is shocking, said Jamaat-i-Islami leader in Karachi Muhammad Hussain Mehanti.
“An army operation is inevitable,” he said, arguing that negotiations and rallies were not enough.
Militants change locations
Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wasan said he was deeply upset by the continuing violence. Miscreants have moved around so they can continue their crimes, he said August 2.
Authorities are stepping up searches, raids and patrols in troubled areas to restore law and order.
“With the support of law enforcement agencies and of the political and ethnic parties in the city, we will be able to uphold the writ of law and restore peace in Karachi,” Wasan said.