KARACHI: Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza distanced himself from the Tuesday crackdown launched by the paramilitary Rangers in Orangi, claiming that he or even the chief minister was not taken on board.
On Tuesday, a heavy contingent of Rangers cordoned off certain localities of Orangi Town, restricted movement of the residents and took into custody over 300 people. Also on Tuesday, the Sindh home department had renewed the special powers to raid and arrest suspects to the Rangers.
The shocking disclosure made by the home minister in a television interview on Wednesday only reflected a lack of cooperation between different departments of the government, as Dr Mirza claimed that even the Sindh police chief and the capital city police officer were not consulted.
He told the interviewer that he was in Badin and had come to know about the operation only from the media. For last two days he had been in contact with Interior Minister Rehman Malik, but he was not given any information as to who took the decision and under what circumstances it was taken, he added.
Agreeing that the Rangers were a federal force, he said that in Sindh the paramilitary troops were supposed to work under the provincial government and with its approval and consent.
He said that if needed he would take up the issue with President Asif Ali Zardari, as such actions only created political problems in Karachi.
Regarding the menace of illegal weapons in Karachi, the home minister categorically said that cleansing the metropolis of the illicit weapons was the prime responsibility of the party which had got 80 per cent mandate in the city.
He welcomed the bill submitted in parliament by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement for the recovery of legal and illegal weapons from across the country. However, he felt that illicit weapons could not be recovered through a mere bill.
He said that a weapon-free society could only be possible through a Swat-like operation and for this everyone, including politicians, the army, society, had to demonstrate a political will.
Replying to a question, Dr Mirza said that illegal weapons were being smuggled into Karachi through land, air and sea routes.
He said that from next month, the Sindh home department in collaboration and cooperation with the National Database Registration Authority would issue computerised arms licence for which software had been developed.
The new licences, which would be machine readable, would be issued by the home secretary, he said.
He said that with the issuance of the computerised licences, thousands of old arms licences would become invalid and would be replaced with the new ones within two years.