To re­boot Karachi

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Ghazi Salahud­din

THE Karachi op­er­a­tion was launched two years ago to es­tab­lish peace in a city torn apart by vi­o­lence and dis­or­der. When Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif came last year to as­sess progress made in one year, the gen­eral im­pres­sion was that there was still a lot to be de­sired. But the pace of ac­tion has greatly picked up in re­cent months. There is no doubt now that this is for real. And seem­ingly in­vin­ci­ble citadels of power and au­thor­ity are be­gin­ning to tot­ter.

So, if there is a like­li­hood of Karachi be­ing trans­formed in a mean­ing­ful way, what will it look like in the near fu­ture? Will it be some kind of a re­birth or a state of paral­y­sis that comes in the wake of se­ri­ous breaches in a pre­vail­ing sys­tem of gov­er­nance? What will be the heal­ing process - so­cially, po­lit­i­cally and bu­reau­crat­i­cally?

We do not know if these and sim­i­lar ques­tions come up when they, the movers and shakers of this op­er­a­tion, meet to plan and to re­view and to draw the lines for bat­tles that are in the off­ing. Per­haps these mat­ters of a some­what so­ci­etal and philo­soph­i­cal na­ture are be­yond their scope. In that case, who ex­actly is the keeper of the city's con­science? Who will ad­min­is­ter the ren­o­va­tion of its eco­nomic, civic and cul­tural struc­tures?

Con­sid­er­ing the tur­moil and the con­fu­sion that the latest ac­tions ini­ti­ated un­der the wings of the Rangers have cre­ated, it may be too early to de­bate the af­ter-ef­fects of the op­er­a­tion and worry about the shape of a ' naya' Karachi. But con­cerned cit­i­zens, who have a vested in­ter­est in Karachi's peace and well­be­ing, should be more aware of their roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in the present cir­cum­stances.

Though I have opted to fo­cus on Karachi, this week's de­vel­op­ments also have a bear­ing on the coun­try's over­all se­cu­rity and po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion. A dis­trac­tion it may be but Im­ran Khan this week com­pleted a hat-trick when the elec­tion tri­bunal de-seated MNA Sid­dique Baloch in NA-154 on PTI leader Ja­hangir Ta­reen's pe­ti­tion. Be­fore that NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq was de-seated from NA-122. It was in May that Khawaja Saad Rafiq had suf­fered the same fate in NA-125, though he ob­tained a stay or­der from the Supreme Court against the tri­bunal's de­ci­sion.

Los­ing face in this en­counter, the PML-N has de­cided to go for by-elec­tions in the Lodhran (NA-154) and La­hore con­stituen­cies rather than seek stay or­ders from the Supreme Court and has chal­lenged Im­ran Khan and Ja­hangir Ta­reen to con­test the polls them­selves in­stead of field­ing other can­di­dates. The de­ci­sion on Saad Rafique's seat was de­ferred be­cause of the rail­ways min­is­ter's ab­sence from the coun­try. In any case, con­fronta­tion be­tween the PTI and PML-N is build­ing up. It will cer­tainly be a thrilling show.

But the most ex­plo­sive story of the week was the ar­rest on Wed­nes­day of Dr Asim Hus­sain, a close as­so­ciate of Asif Ali Zar­dari. The stage for this high-pro­file ar­rest was set when raids were con­ducted by the FIA on a num­ber of gov­ern­ment of­fices in the city to probe cases of cor­rup­tion against some PPP lead­ers and a num­ber of high of­fi­cials.

Still, Dr Asim's ar­rest by the Rangers has sent alarm bells ring­ing in the top ech­e­lons of PPP. That he was put un­der pre­ven­tive de­ten­tion for 90 days by an anti-ter­ror­ism court for al­legedly us­ing em­bez­zled funds to fi­nance ter­ror­ism has shocked many observers. One mea­sure of the scare that re­cent in­ves­ti­ga­tions and raids have cre­ated is that the serv­ing chief sec­re­tary of the province is him­self on bail that he sought for fear that he might be ar­rested.

Nat­u­rally, the PPP lead­er­ship is fu­ri­ous. In ad­di­tion to the ar­rest of the for­mer petroleum min­is­ter who has been very close to Zar­dari, an anti-cor­rup­tion court is­sued non-bail­able war­rants against for­mer prime min­is­ter Yousuf Raza Gi­lani and for­mer com­merce min­is­ter Makhdoom Amin Fahim on Thurs­day af­ter the FIA named them in the fi­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­ports of a dozen cases per­tain­ing to a multi-bil­lion rupee trade sub­sidy swin­dle.

Amin Fahim, in­ci­den­tally, is very sick and un­der treat­ment in Lon­don. So much else has hap­pened in many dif­fer­ent cases that the po­si­tion of the PPP's Sindh gov­ern­ment is be­com­ing un­ten­able. Chief Min­is­ter Qaim Ali Shah is con­stantly is­su­ing an­gry state­ments to protest that the fed­eral agen­cies and the Rangers were un­law­fully interfering in pro­vin­cial mat­ters. But he ap­pears to be help­less about it. Ap­pre­hen­sions that af­ter tar­get­ing the MQM, the guns would be turned to­wards the PPP have been val­i­dated.

The Karachi op­er­a­tion that was tech­ni­cally launched two years ago was com­pletely trans­formed af­ter the en­force­ment of the Na­tional Ac­tion Plan.

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