Pakistan’s former ruling party, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), promised on page 5 of its manifesto 2013 that while strengthening the rule of law, coordinated, comprehensive strategies would be devised to ‘Protect the People of Pakistan’. It was further promised that more investment would be made in the police forces, counter-terrorism forces and law enforcement units for each province, diverting resources and personnel to internal security.”
Terrorism is a serious problem for Pakistan. There have been thousands of casualties over the last decade, with a spike during the last five years.
PPP’s central government had struggled with the menace of terrorism, making offers of reconciliation and talks to the terrorists on the condition that they lay down their arms. PPP’s former minister of information and mass-media broadcasting, Qamar Zaman Kaira, had claimed (February 2013) that the PPP’s government had successfully patronized its strategy against the Taliban when militants challenged the writ of the state.
Elaborating on this further, Rubina Saadat Qaim Khani, PPP’s former Member of the National Assembly (MNA), told Truth Tracker that the PPP’s government intended to keep all channels of peace talks open to the Taliban, provided they put their weapons down.
However, the Taliban maintain that they will not enter into any peace talks with the government. After only 26 days into its new term of the provincial government in Sindh, the PPP suffered a high-profile terrorist attack on the convoy of Justice Maqbool Baqar of Sindh High Court. That attack left a dozen dead and 14 injured, including the Justice himself.
Talking to Truth Tracker, Khani said, “Chief Minister (CM) Sindh Qaim Ali Shah is currently holding meetings with the party members to discuss strategies and policies to tackle terrorism in the province, especially Karachi. The details of these meetings will be made public soon.”
PPP believe that there can be no growth in other sectors until terrorism is dealt with. Khani added that PPP intends to resolve the issue of terrorism by getting all stakeholders on board. Khani said the “PPP believed in reconciliation and had kept the offer of peace talks open, but only if militants laid down their arms.” Otherwise, she continued, “the government would be bound to take other actions against them like it already did previously in Swat and North and South Waziristan.”
While presenting the provincial budget for 2013-14 on June 17, CM Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah announced that the provincial government had put aside Rs. 48.8 billion (US $500m) for security in Sindh.
The police and Rangers conducted a ‘surprise’ raid on Karachi’s Central Jail (June 29), on a tip from an inmate.
Major Sibtain, spokesperson for the Rangers, while talking to Truth Tracker said that the Rangers along with police raided the Karachi Central jail on June 29, 2013 and recovered radical literature, laptops and cellular phones.
According to media reports, the cellular phone allegedly used to plan the targeted attack on senior judge, Justice Maqbool Baqar on June 26, was also recovered in that raid.
Later the same day, Director General Rangers (Sindh) Major General Rizwan Akhtar briefed CM Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah about the measures taken to improve the law and order situation in Karachi.
With evidence of the these efforts on the part of PPP’s provincial government in Sindh, Truth Tracker can say that PPP’s promise is under way.
According to data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, more than fourteen thousand Pakistani citizens have lost their lives in the last five years as a result of terrorism in Pakistan. The PPP (which formed the provincial government in Sindh after May 2013 elections) was the ruling party during those five years. Breakdown of that figure revealed that Pakistan’s security forces suffered the highest losses in 2009, with 991 personnel killed, while in 2012 the civilian casualties were 3007.
Khani suggested in her interview with Truth Tracker, “Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif should call an all parties conference to discuss such important issues like terrorism, as PPP is ready to talk to all stakeholders.”
While speaking to Truth Tracker, Sindh Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)’s Assistant Coordinator Abdul Hai said, “Practically, the government hasn’t done anything yet. I do not know if there are any plans in the pipeline or any policies and strategies in the making. At this point, we are hoping that the PPP is working on some policy or strategy to curb terrorism in Karachi.”
Chief of Citizens Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) Ahmed Chinoy is of the view that the Sindh government has just come into power so it is unrealistic to expect it to have already taken measures to tackle the law and order situation in Karachi. “We must give it time,” he suggested.
Chinoy said, “PPP has allocated a large amount for security in the provincial budget of 2013-14 which will come into effect from July 2013. It indicates that the government is taking the issue of terrorism in Karachi seriously.”