Malik blames `third force`: `Partial curfew`, intense hunt for killers planned
KARACHI: As target killings claimed five more lives on Sunday, raising the death toll over the past four days to 29, the government decided to impose a ‘partial curfew’ in selected areas to weed out the elements involved in target killings and also to try mobile-phone snatchers under the anti-terrorism law.
It has been decided that the Federal Investigation Agency will be involved in the operation along with police and Rangers and commandos will be dropped from helicopters in troubled areas during daytime surveillance to apprehend criminals.
Carrying the national identity card will be mandatory because of snap checkings, especially in the troubled areas.
There was a lot of confusion over the decision to impose a ‘partial curfew’ and some government officials said it would only mean intensified hunt for killers, vigorous steps to maintain peace and a ban on pillion riding for a week.
The decisions announced on Sunday were taken at an extended meeting between the PPP and the MQM held late on Saturday night to address Muttahida’s concerns and demands communicated to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
It was possibly for this reason that ANP leader Haji Adeel expressed misgivings and reservations and told private TV channels that it would have been better if all the coalition partners had been consulted. He also said it would have been much better if the army had been given the task of weeding out terrorists.
The ANP leader demanded an indiscriminate operation while expressing reservations over the current strategy.
While extremist forces appear to be gaining ground amid rising acrimony among liberal political forces, Interior Minister Rehman Malik accused a ‘third party’ of creating differences and disharmony among the PPP, MQM and ANP.
Talking to reporters before leaving for Islamabad after presiding over a meeting along with Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, he said President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, MQM chief Altaf Hussain and ANP leader Asfandyar Wali were on the same page for “curbing this menace”.
He said it had been decided that aerial surveillance of the volatile areas would be conducted.
The minister said some target killers had been apprehended red-handed.
At the meeting, it was emphasised that criminal elements had been using stolen mobile phones for coordinating their activities.
The meeting, also attended by the senior police officers, decided to boost security at airports because it had been noticed that some people involved in target killings and other crimes in the city had come from abroad. Some of them had retuned after accomplishing the task given to them, while others had disappeared.
The meeting termed the killings part of a conspiracy against the democratically elected government and said terrorism was a national issue and it was the responsibility of the government to provide security to the people.
It was informed that some arrested culprits were being interrogated and steps were being taken in the light of information gathered from them.
The need for improving and strengthening the law-enforcement agencies’ network was also discussed and the government leaders praised their performance.