An appeal to Gen. Raheel Sharif

  • According to the Dawn editorial of July 18 titled ‘Intimidatory tactics’, facilitating the broadcast of Altaf Hussain’s speech, and going a step further, even listening to the speech has been declared to be a criminal offence. And when things like this happen, we sure know that institutions introducing such measures have gone beyond all reasonable limits. Perhaps, taking MQM as an easy prey, the Rangers have unleashed all their fury against it while taking care not to operate against 579 unregistered madressas in Karachi, many of which are involved in promoting terrorism, as pointed out in Dawn report of July 16 titled ‘No unregistered madressah sealed in Karachi, many other districts’. And the report attributes the lack of action in this direction to have been caused by the fear of formidable resistance that the street power of the institutions in question could present. Moreover, despite reports of a large proportion of corruption money being handed over to Bilawal House, and the inflammatory speech made against the army by Asif Ali Zardari, the D.G. Rangers and Karachi Corps Commander had no problem having an hour-long cordial meeting with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Also, while Saulat Mirza was greatly facilitated to say all that he wanted to say, equally damaging disclosures made by Uzair Baloch have not received the same degree of attention and are not being aired with the same passion.

    The Rangers have remained stationed in Sindh for some decades now. However, their sudden transformation into a deadly force which is behaving like it is behaving, is due to the overwhelming support given to it recently by Sindh Government, the Federal Government, Corps Commander Karachi and above all, by the army chief General Raheel Sharif who has been briefed perhaps by the former Rangers DG who now sits next to the army chief as Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). There is nothing wrong with subjecting to due course of law all the people who are found indulging in criminal activities but taking people into custody just for holding positions within the party hierarchy, like declaration of intention to target Sector and Unit in charges of MQM, as well as blanket and disproportionate action based purely on whims and fancies of some Rangers officials can hardly be justified.

    As the top commander, the army chief should ensure that the institutions under him behave in an orderly manner, and with a strict sense of proportion, justice and fair play and not make their actions MQM-centric simply because MQM workers and leaders do not offer any resistance. Such a conduct could also shock and alienate a rather large number of Urdu-speaking people in Karachi and elsewhere who welcomed the move to cleanse Karachi but are getting apprehensive over the focus of the operation turning on the MQM to the exclusion of terrorists who pose an existential threat to the country.

    We have to remember that the mistreatment and picking on a section of Pakistani population in the past (Bengalese) had grave consequences for the country and apart from resulting in its dismemberment of Pakistan, brought shame to the country because of the massive surrender of nearly hundred thousands Pakistani soldiers made before the Indians. Now, this is not at all meant to be a ‘veiled’ threat or something because I know just as well as others do that the situation of former East Pakistan was and is quite different from that of Karachi in that the former had a bigger population than that of West Pakistan, was nearly 1,400 miles away from the western wing, had a relatively small Pakistan military presence there which did not even have the air cover, and the enemy India was right next door, waiting to avenge what Indira Gandhi called a thousand years of Muslim rule. However, the reason that the Urdu-speaking community cannot, and definitely does not want to react in the way the Bengalese did should not be taken as a justification for harassing and mistreating the members of the party which they overwhelmingly support.

    Sometime back, Rangers D.G Maj-Gen. Bilal Akbar came up with an annual corruption figure for Karachi amounting to Rs.230 billion per year, some of which is used to finance criminal activities in the city. However, a former chief of National Accountability Bureau, Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari had quoted a figure of Rs. 8 billion as the daily corruption in Pakistan, which means that eleven-twelfth of the total corruption in Pakistan is done in cities other than Karachi, which is obviously true because the Federal Government as well as the Punjab Provincial Government have massive funds at their disposal. And while Karachi, the city with one-twelfth share in total corruption in Pakistan is being turned upside down, not much anti-corruption work is being done in the rest of the country.

    Gen. Raheel Sharif and his forces are doing a wonderful job and have made significant achievement on some fronts with the support of Pakistan air force. However, he should ensure that the Rangers and their backers do not commit uncalled for excesses on MQM members and their supporters. No doubt in the present situation, the Rangers and their backers can go to any extreme and get away with it but what Gen. Raheel should consider is whether it would be in the interest of the country to alienate a very large number of Urdu-speaking people who form majority of Karachi population, and have presence both in provincial and national assembly as well as the Senate. Does the General not see anything wrong with MQM, which holds the mandate of the people of Karachi, does not have any say at all in maters relating to the city and have no presence in the apex committee which decides the fate of the city.. As for Sindh Governor Ishrat-ul-Ebad, he has already been disowned by both Altaf Hussain as well as MQM who have even asked him to resign. Surely, with Pakistan already facing multiple problems, it would be a unwise to create yet more problems in Karachi by disenfranchising a large portion of the Karachi population simply because there are people in some institutions who are opposed to MQM and are prepared to go far beyond what justice and fair play would allow Taking people into custody on the ‘charge’ of listening to speeches from the top leader of a party which has presence in the Provincial and National Assemblies as well as in the senate, and going a step further, threatening to take into custody an ex-minister of the party for listening to speeches from the top leader is just too much. And the Rangers made a statement sometime back that MQM members will be targeted just for holding the position of Unit and Sector in charges in the party. These draconian measures appear even more unjust when it is considered that these are being taken against one party only to the exclusion of other parties and outfits some of which present an existential threat to the country.

    I know the army chief is a very busy person who has many things on his mind all the time, with Karachi may be just one of them, and not being the most important for that matter. Additionally, he may also be totally satisfied that the law and order situation of Karachi is in the hands of competent people who know Karachi inside out or may have been adequately briefed by the outgoing top officials. However, dealing with a situation satisfactorily needs not only complete information but also an unbiased mind to be able to see things as they in fact are and not how they are made to look plus analytical ability to correlate actions with expected consequences and then to work out a plan that achieves significant objectives without doing uncalled for and unnecessary damage. Just cracking the whip is not always the best option, especially when other sensible courses of action are available.

    Long time back, I read somewhere that the world could be a lot better place to live if, instead of having the courage of our convictions, we had the courage of our doubts. And this because most of the time what we see as our convictions are little more than our prejudices and the actions based on those can obviously only mess things up. On the other hand, if we had the courage of our doubts, we would stop and think that perhaps other person was right and we were wrong, and this honest approach may help us to make a better assessment of the situation and that would definitely lead us to better solutions. And this very much applies to the Karachi situation in respect of which very many of the people have ‘convictions’ from which they are not prepared to budge a all.


  • Don't waste time appealing to a person who has authorised these actions.

    If you want to appeal, appeal to the civil society. They might have some sense of justice and support points you have raised.

  • There is an opportunity for the civil society to build on what has been stated here to save democratic institution from the control of armed groups.

    In extraordinary times will inevitably come extraordinary measures — but the costs are piling up and perhaps now unacceptably from a civil rights perspective.

    That an ex-minister belonging to the MQM, Rauf Siddiqui, has to approach the Sindh High Court to obtain protective bail after the police booked him under anti-terrorism laws for listening to a speech by his party leader Altaf Hussain is mind-boggling.

    So too are the arrests of senior MQM leaders for allegedly facilitating and arranging the broadcast of Mr Hussain’s recent speech in which he lambasted the military leadership.

    Surely, inadvisable as Mr Hussain’s tirade may have been, there is no justification for arresting and intimidating MQM leaders for having simply listened to or arranged a political speech by the leader of their party.

    The actions are being explained away on the grounds that what Mr Hussain said amounts to hate speech and an incitement to violence. But this is patently false.

    **Consider the extraordinary contrast between the repression of the MQM and the space once again being afforded to a banned group like the ASWJ, which is no stranger to hate speech and that yesterday held public rallies rather incredibly in defence of the military.


    It is truly alarming that the law-enforcement and criminal justice systems are being used to shut down vocal dissent by a mainstream political party, howsoever controversial its actions, while banned militant groups are being allowed to preach in favour of the state and military.

    Could there be a worse indictment of all that is wrong with the state’s approach to fighting crime and terrorism in Karachi and beyond?

    To be sure, Altaf Hussain is only attacking the military leadership because his own party is under siege by the security apparatus.

    It was only recently that his party still seemed to regard the military as a panacea and urged it to intervene in national politics.

    Still, while there may be objections to the tone and tenor and some of the impolitic language used, what Mr Hussain has said now on several occasions against the military is no different to what politicians routinely say about each other or other institutions of the state, particularly the bureaucracy.

    It is troubling that such a blatant double standard is being enforced, one for what can be said about any political leader and most state institutions and another for what can be said about the military.

    Yet, the pressure on the MQM at least is not about to abate — the extension of the Rangers’ mandate in the province for a year suggests the PPP government in Sindh has also been convinced of the need to continue the Karachi operation.

    That a wide-ranging operation is needed in the province cannot be disputed. That it should focus on crime and terrorism, including atrocities committed by MQM militants, and be mindful of civil liberties is very clear too.

    Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2015

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  • @curiousity, Altaf Hussain challenges writ of the state and expects to be treated as beloved leader. How is he different from TTP or any other terror outfit. When are you going to mourn thousands who have been killed in Karachi over last few years. Don't quote DAWN newspaper, they have push for Anglo-Indian agenda.I have never seen them write about criminal activity of Altf mafia.

  • Question is not just about AH, question is how come proscribed Organization like ASWJ, which declares Muslims not like them as kafirs, kills innocent, preach hate on Internet and Madressas, etc., is allowed to do all that with no action, that too not only all over the country but also in the same city.

    Actually, the establishment doesn't even disassociate itself when the same Organization has rallies in their support.

    There is only one conclusion, that the men with arms still believe in assets doing their dirty work and do not subscribe to justice.

  • Any outfit crossing the limit would become target. The writ of the state must be established. Do you know the result of establishing state within a state? Ask Mulla Fazalullah. You don't seem to understand the meaning of state.

  • @ Parvez

    I can see that perhaps not having never been able to live in any country apart from Pakistan places certain limits on the thinking of people as to what a state is like and what it should or shoudn’t do. And apart from that, certain people could also have other limitations like in their view of the use of overwhelming and disproportionate force against its own citizens as the only way a state could establish its writ. Somehow, they do not seem to realize that the primary duty of a state is to serve its people in a just and equitable manner so that people do not see any need to rise in protest, which protest he likens to establishing a state within a state or challenging the writ of the state.

    Long time back when I was living in Lahore, I met a retired police officer who had mellowed down in his advanced years but was known to be quite a terror while he was in active service. As a matter of interest, I once asked him as to how he managed to ‘establish his writ’ in a new place so soon after taking up the assignment. And the gentleman said that while reaching the locality where he was to take charge of the Police Station, his strategy was to get hold of the first person he came across and to give him a thorough beating even without the persons having done any wrong. And then the victim would run around telling every one in the locality approvingly what a NAR (male, strong) Thanedar has come to take charge of the Police Station. And from that point onwards, they all treated him with ‘respect’. Surprisingly, no one, not even the person thrashed unjustly saw anything wrong with the conduct. Obviously, blessed with a similar line of thinking, some people can see the use of disproportionate force as the only means to establish the writ of the state. Additionally, a no-challenge situation even on demonstration of such uncalled for brutality only encourages the brutes to take liberty with yet other people, and sets a pattern even of state brutality.

    I lived in UK for nearly a decade where the state does not use much muscle power and yet things are so orderly there which can not even be imagined in Pakistan. This is because over there, the leaders realize that the primary duty of the state is to manage it in a just and equitable manner, to give the people their due rights and to cater to their basic needs so that they see no need to rise in protest. And despite provision of all basic necessities to people, whenever there was any law and order problem, usually after football matches when the supporters of different teams clashed, the injury figures were something like fifty policemen to five rioters. And that means even in the case of law and order problem unnecessarily created by the public, the law enforcers acted with utmost restraint. This is because even the state officials of the highest level see themselves, and are treated by the masses, strictly as public servants and not as rulers.

    Now compare what I have stated above with the situation prevailing in Pakistan. Like during the last heat wave in Karachi, was the state visible anywhere? Whatever emergency facilities were made available to the people of Karachi had been organized by private charitable organizations and by public-spirited individuals which Karachi is lucky to have in abundance. Do you remember that Sindh Provincial government refused even to accept any responsibility for over two thousand deaths and placed the entire responsibility on the federal government and K-electric. And even if K-electric worked under contract with the federal government the fact that it was operating in Karachi and was responsible for providing essential services to Karachi people, Sindh government should have kept its working under scrutiny - which it did not - and to complain to the federal government to make K-electric stick to the agreement. And it was much the same in case of tragedy in Thar. In fact, situation is much the same in case of any calamity occurring anywhere in Pakistan.

    And looking at the matter from an entirely different angle, isn’t it strange that a city like Karachi with a population reported to be in excess of twenty-five million, is being run from interior Sindh by remote control and MQM, the party which holds the mandate of the city and has substantial presence in the Sindh Provincial Assembly as well as National Assembly and Senate is not allowed to play even a minor role in the management of the city through a much-depleted local government that could come through the Sindh Local Government Act which has been repeatedly hacked down by Peoples Party and stripped of all its powers.

    And this means the total deprivation of the residents of this city the vast majority of which consists of Urdu-speaking people. And this is not by accident but by design and their life is being made more and more miserable with each passing day. And what makes it even worse is that the uniformed gentry which claims to be pursuing the mission of cleansing the city seems to be least bothered by the fact that the stake-holders in the city, the Urdu-speaking people, the Sindhis, Pakhtuns, Punjabis, Balochs and others who have made this city their home are allowed no role in the running of the city. Instead, the city is ruled by remote control from interior Sindh, and the rural-Sindh based team that runs the city is in turn directed by the party bosses based in Dubai who even call the party meetings there? Additionally, all the persons involved in the running of the city are interested only in what they can take out of it and convert into assets held abroad.

    Ours is a land of slogans, but the one I really liked was coined a few years back when Pakistan’s population was supposed to be 180 million. The slogan simply said “Atthara crore Insano, Apni taqat ko pehchano” which would roughly translate to “180 million people, just realize your potential”.

    Unfortunately, we were not a nation of 180 million Pakistanis even then but consisted of a few crore here, a couple of crore there, and a crore and a half somewhere else, all divided on ethnic grounds. And then there were, and still are, further sub-divisions on sectarian grounds. And that makes us a very large number of diverse groups divided and sub-divided on ethnic and sectarian grounds, with the power of the individual groups diluted so much that they pose absolutely no challenge at all to the government, which knows their weakness and mistreats them accordingly, fully assured that no particular group is strong enough to challenge it.

    The division of Pakistanis in various group is so complete that they see each other, not as nationals of the same state but enemy nations altogether. As such, when one group is being persecuted, other groups even enjoy it, not realizing that it could, and does happen even to them. After all, it was not all that far back in time when, without justification, fourteen innocent people were mercilessly mowed down and another eighty wounded through straight shooting by Punjab police at Dr. Tahirul Qadri’s Model Town secretariat. And see with what ease the government hushed up the whole matter, even though the FIR of the incident was registered with the intervention of the army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif.

    I will end the post with a slogan I have just coined and which, I think, is the need of the hour:


    This would translate to “200 million persons, accept and treat each other as a Pakistani brother or sister”

    I wish you all a very happy Eid.


  • During a visit to Waziristan tribal regions to celebrate Eid with troops on front lines, the army chief is reported to have said “Proactive counter-terrorism operations in urban areas by law-enforcement agencies are producing desired results. He said equal focus would remain on finding terror financing, choking all their sources and apprehending financiers, abettors and sympathisers.

    We all know that with the help of Pakistan air force, the army has done a great job ridding the country of terrorist strongholds in the tribal region from where they had become very difficult to dislodge. Obviously, the difficult terrain helped the terrorists and some television channels did show the vast networks of underground tunnels and markets selling all types of armaments, including IEDs meant to kill one, two or more persons just like set hotel menus are meant to serve a specified number of people. While the air force provided great help by softening the targets, the actual mopping up and clearing work naturally had to be done by ground-based troops, who suffered many casualties in the process, with a large number of our brave soldiers embracing martyrdom. The nation speaks with one voice in offering thanks and expressing gratitude to our soldiers who managed to accomplish this task which was by no means easy.

    And the fight is not limited to tribal areas but is also being carried out in urban centres of Pakistan, specially in Karachi where the para-military Sindh Rangers, with the help of local police and the active backing of the armed forces, are tackling extremism and terrorism. They have achieved significant progress on matters like mobile snatching, car and motor cycle snatching, target killings, bhatta collection, land- grabbing and things like that. However, a lot more needs to be done in this respect. Unfortunately, towards stopping the spread of extremism, militancy and terrorism through extremists madressahs, which presents an existential threat to the country, not much seems to have been done yet and it would not be wrong to say that in this respect, a serious start is yet to be made. A Dawn report of July 16 titled ‘No unregistered madressah sealed in Karachi, many other districts’ deals with the matter in sufficient detail.

    No doubt thanks are due to the Pakistan military for its endeavours and sacrifices to rid the county of militancy, extremism and terrorism, in which it still has a very long way to go. However, it must be realized that even if the military finally managed to rid the country of this menace, it would not have placed the nation in a ‘net gain’ position but would have simply rid the country of the menace brought on to the nation and the country by yet another General Ziaul Haq who, in order to prolong his rule, got Pakistan involved in a long, unnecessary US war with Russia, to fight which he helped establish thousands of madressas producing Jihadis. These are the remnants of the former jihadis as well as fresh ‘graduates’ of the extremists among madressah who are now catching us by the throat.

    The army high command must ensure that in its great zeal to rid the country of one menace, its operations do not produce side-effects which could have the effect of destabilizing he country. To be a bit more specific, I have army chief’s statement in mind where he said “Equal focus would remain on finding terror financing, choking all their sources and apprehending financiers, abettors and SYMPATHISERS.” The statement seems to be too loosely worded, specially the inclusion of the word ‘sympathisers’ makes it open to misuse. I would give a simple example. Now, if I see a crowd (say group A) which has got hold of a small-time pick-pocket and is giving him much more than a ‘sound’ thrashing, going to an extent where the person could lose his life, and another group of people (say group B) intervened, snatched him from the crowd and handed him over to the police. Now as I see it, people of group B should be lauded and seen as upholders of law and justice who stopped an extreme injustice and a crime of murder from being committed. Yet a biased or ill-informed law enforcer following the letter and not the spirit of the statement could arrest and book the people of group B if not on other charges than at least for SYMPATHISING with a law breaker, a pick-pocket in this case. By the way, I really feel sorry for the miserable-looking Qamar Mansoor of MQM, especially because of the timing and manner of his arrest.

    And it is a fact that in an earlier operation, senior army officers came up with an accusation of hatching Jinnahpur conspiracy (complete with maps) against MQM which was later admitted by another retired senior army officer to be a complete fabrication. And that means even the armed forces do not consist solely of angels. And extending the argument further, there can be no guarantee that the present army officers are all angels.

    Also, in all situations, a sense of proportion is of utmost importance, and this acquires even greater urgency when the problems are formidable and the resources to tackle them are limited. In such a situation, it becomes absolutely essential to ration the resources and allocate them to tackling the problems in proportion to the threat that any particular problem may present. In simple words, instead of focusing full attention on MQM in an attempt to remodel it according to liking of the higher ups, adequate attention must be paid, and proportionate resources allocated, to the tackling the religion-oriented militancy, extremism and terrorism. Unfortunately, this greatest of all threats has failed to attract adequate attention because this type of exercise would demand a far more comprehensive planning and even greater hurdles in its implementation because of the formidable street power religion-oriented institutions and parties have. Still, the law enforcers should not shy away from this most important task simply because of the difficulties that such an exercise could present.


  • @Hashmi Saab

    It's hard to read your long posts, but if I am not mistaken you seems to be trying to fill the vacuum left by the detention of Zaid Hamid. We thought Army has lost one of it's fav parrot but you picked up where he left.

    Army created all these religious and ethnic radicals. They are not doing us any favor by selectively going after them. They are still following same failed strategies of past 35 years. Raheel Sharif's BS is not much different than his predecessors.

  • @Shirazi Sahab

    You say you find it hard to read my long posts, and I can well believe that. I am pretty sure even in the present case, you read only half of the post, and then rushed to make ‘definitive’ statements, without feeling any need whatsoever to substantiate them. In any case, had you read the full post, you would not have made the remarks that you did.

    I sincerely hope this post is not too long for you.

  • @Hashmi Saab

    Sorry after reading your long post it seems like we are not poles apart.

  • @ Shirazi Sahab



  • @Hashmi Bhai, I hope you had a wonderful Eid with your friends and family.

    I like your soft touch in presenting MQM case. I think if they had leaders like you, their problems would be mitigated.

    The groups who go for frontal attack on state, need to be extremely careful. I can give you some examples like Tamil Tigers and TTP. Do you hear much from them?

    The case of Afghan Taliban and Mukti Bahini should be discussed in some detail if you are interested.