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Sindh under siege.

Lecislators from Sindh had denounced army action arguing that without a political solution it would be detrimental to the solidarity of the country.

For quite some time a new spate of lawlessness has emerged in Sindh. Firing on trains, repeat carnage in Hyderabad, bomb blasts, dacoits and kidnapping for ransom have become regular feature in Sindh. The disappearance of Ashiq Ali Hussain, a business tycoon and Vazeer of Aga Khan Council has completely shaken the administrative machinery. Four days later, Director General, Health, Dr. Sajjan Memon, was kidnapped from Super Highway. Since the beginning of the year 19 cases of kidnapping for ransom had taken place in Karachi alone. Some of the kidnapees are yet to be traced. Chaudhry Shujaat, Federal Interior Minister, admitted, police in the province has been paralysed and alleged that some elements in the province joined hands with the outlaws and there were several incidents in which police worked along with the dacoits. in the meantime, the worst ever power crisis has paralysed the business and commercial activities in Karachi. In some cases power remained cut off for 18 hours. Transfer of government personnel from Karachi to the interior has come to a grinding halt as nobody is interested in the interior in view of the deteriorating law and order situation.

The Operation Blue Star (OBS) has begun in Sindh to put an end to the lawlessness. About 18,000 civil armed forces and five corps of the army have been deployed in the province. According to reports the OBS has six objectives including immediate restoration of the writ for the government in Sindh, protection of international and inter-provincial borders, blocking the escape routes of the criminals, destruction of arms and ammunition dumps, monitoring dacoits' activities and complete elimination of terrorism and sabotage.

The objective of OBS may be laudable but the ruling IJI lacks credibility in this regard. Prime Minister's own statement that no "patharidars or waderas" will be spared in the operation. True to his words, the first house raided by the security force after the OBS plan was that of the Makhdooms of Hala allies of the PPP. Another incident was the Naval Task Force encounter with Al-Zulfikar terrorist in which seven terrorists died. It took 60 hours for the Navy to release the story. Fourteen AZO men were taken captives but they were not produced before the newsmen. Strangely no arms were recovered from them nor any of the captives injured. This is an example how innocent people supporting PPP were rounded up and killed. This episode took place at a time when Mr. Nawaz Sharif was trying to establish some kind of working relationship with the leader of Opposition Ms. Bhutto whose brother is alleged to be the leader of the AZO. The MQM is worried that it would be made the target during this operation. If it happens it would bring down the facade of Muzaffar Shah's government in the province which according to one political observer would rip apart the coalition in the centre.

However, General Asif Nawaz declared that no political party or group will be made a target during the operation clean-up in Sindh. It will be even handed and the political sensitives will be kept in view. His reference to foreign involvement in Sindh, and possession of documentaries showing who have got training in terrorism from where and possession of highly sensitive maps was no one else but a political party. MQM alleged that its offices were being monitored by the government agencies while enquiries were being conducted about the office-bearers of various MQM units. If the action was initiated against dacoits and terrorists what is the reason for these enquiries,the agitated leaders asked the federal government.

PDA legislators from Sindh had denounced army action arguing that without a political solution it would be detrimental to the solidarity of the country. Benazir Bhutto while strongly protesting the army action, presented a three-point political package, which included: return of representative government in Sindh, one billion rupees for Sindh's development projects, Sindh's due right in the quota system.

Sindh is governed like a colony. The present set-up is a mockery of democratic norms. According to political observers Sindh is sitting on top of a simmering volcano of deprivation, a state of siege imposed by criminals and political waderas protecting these criminals and the might of, the state unleashed against these waderas. Benazir Bhutto describing the situation said "parliamentarians" were being kidnapped, women activists were raped, political workers tortured and CIA had become a den of murderers. The leader of the opposition called for fresh elections. You cannot solve the problem by just invoking article 147 of the Constitution. Benazir Bhutto strongly opposed the army action and said "Do not send them to do something they cannot do. Sindh needs free and fair elections. Sindh needs its share in the government, in Presidency, Prime Ministership, in Supreme Court, in Government jobs, in PIA, in Pakistan Steel". The present mood in the country is to ignore these words of sanity.

Sindh economic scenario is in a mess. Industrial unrest is widespread. Production in industrial units is steeply sliding downward. Most of the industries have been shifted to Chunian. Nooriabad which was fast growing up has become an economic desert. Unemployment is rampant. Karachi has had a step-motherly treatment ever since Zia came into power. Islamabad imposed FAC on Karachi industries. KESC, which was an independent body was put under WAPDA. Sindh has the highest population growth rate due to influx of unemployed youth from all over the country. A census was held in 1991 but its results were kept as a guarded secret. Today Karachi is over ten million people but it gets share under Divisible Pool on the basis of 1981 population figures.

Over 90 per cent of country's reported external trade passes through Karachi. Something like 25 to 30 per cent of country's large-scale industry is located here. It is also the main centre for finance and large-scale trade. It is here that the money market is located. It is the main gateway to Pakistan. Notwithstanding during Zia regime a ban was put on setting up industries in Dhabeji, Gharo, Karachi and statements were issued that location of industries in Karachi was a mistake. The ban has not only affected Karachi or Sindh province but the whole country. After the death of Jam Sadiq Ali the ex-Chief Minister of Sindh, the Sindh Assembly was not permitted to elect its leader according to the Constitution and the wishes of the members of the house. The Sindh Assembly was not even consulted for invoking Article 147. According to newspaper reports Islamabad communicated in no uncertain terms to the Sindh Government that either the latter complied with instructions for making a request under Article 147 or face suspension - even dissolution of the Assembly.

Sindh has no local police with permanent interest in the province. It is invariably from other provinces. Cops do not know the topography of the city nor do they have personal stakes here. For them Karachi is a gold mine where they come to make hay while the sun shines.
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Title Annotation:spate of crimes in Sindh, Pakistan
Author:Haidari, Iqbal
Publication:Economic Review
Date:May 1, 1992
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