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MQM defies TTP threat, vows to promote religious tolerance, harmony
Government will root out terrorism to protect Pakistani principles, politicians and people, officials say.
By Javed Mahmood
ISLAMABAD – Ignoring a fresh threat issued by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) vowed to continue its struggle to promote religious tolerance, harmony and human rights and to discourage extremism and terrorism, MQM spokesman Nasir Jamal told Central Asia Online November 3.
"MQM leaders held a meeting in Karachi November 3, discussed the TTP’s threat and decided to continue our struggle against extremism and religious hatred," Jamal said. "With might, sticks or bullets, the terrorists cannot deter the people of Pakistan who want to see peace, harmony and unity in the country."
MQM is determined not to bow to any terrorist threats and to build a Pakistan that matches the aspirations of its founding fathers, he said.
What the people want
"We learned … November 2 about the TTP’s plan of targeting the MQM leaders and supporters in Karachi," he said, adding, "We have decided not to give any importance to this threat because the terrorists are in the habit of sending such disgusting messages to us."
The MQM is planning a referendum asking the people whether they want to live in a country run by the Taliban or the one envisioned by the country’s founding father, the Quaid-e-Azam, media reported November 6.
The referendum, originally scheduled for November 8, will be held November 14, media reported.
Although the announcement of a referendum sparked more threats from the Taliban, MQM is committed to holding it, confident that voters will reject the extremists he said.
Karachi police prepare for possible attacks
A few weeks before the TTP’s latest threat to MQM, security agencies forewarned Sindh provincial government officials about a Taliban plan to assassinate MQM and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders in Karachi in an effort to destabilise the democratic system, officials said.
"The Ministry of Interior and security agencies have already alerted the police," Chaudhry Aslam, chief of the anti-Extremism Cell of the Crimes Investigation Department (CID) of Karachi Police, told Central Asia Online by phone.
Police officers and Rangers have instructions to step up random inspections, searches and street patrols and to conduct raids in neighbourhoods where the Taliban take refuge before attacking, he said.
Local police have arrested more than 60 TTP activists this year, who are facing interrogation and trial, Aslam said.
This is not the first time the militants have tried to disrupt democratic processes in Pakistan.
A few months ago the TTP threatened Awami National Party (ANP) leaders and their supporters in Banaras, Sohrab Goth, Gadap Town and Kati Pahari.
"When the ANP informed the government and police about this threat, we carried out raids in the said areas, as a result of which some of the TTP men were arrested while others fled from the city," Aslam said.
Police will react similarly to extinguish the MQM threat, he said.
MQM demands decisive action against Taliban
MQM has demanded the federal government initiate a decisive operation against the terrorists who frequently target various individuals and damage the image of Islam and of Pakistan, Jamal said.
"On several occasions, we have requested the government to eliminate the culture of Talibanisation in Karachi and other parts of the country, but the government had not taken it seriously," he said.
The Pakistani government is working to defeat terrorism and will continue those efforts, said Shazia Marri, a PPP Member of National Assembly and former Sindh provincial information minister.
"The government and the security agencies will provide protection to the politicians and people and give a blow to the motives of the militants," she said.
"We know that the Taliban want to target the important leaders of the PPP, and the security measures taken by the law enforcement agencies will not allow the militants to achieve their nefarious motives," Marri told Central Asia Online.
MQM enhances security
MQM has increased its security in and around its headquarters, Nine Zero, and other areas for the protection of its leaders and people, Jamal said.
And Hussain "has asked the government and military to launch a major operation against the terrorists to purge the country from the extremists and militants," he said.
Pakistan’s leaders must keep in mind that the Taliban have violated nearly a dozen agreements made with the government to end militancy and maintain peace in the country, he said, adding MQM expects the culture of Talibanisation to deepen in Karachi and other parts of the country if the government abstains from acting decisively against the militants, he said.