Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Asma Jahangir & Violence in Karachi.

KARACHI: President Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Asma Jehangir has alleged that everyone was well aware of the fact that Pakistan People's Party's Aman Committee is actually its extortion-collecting wing, Geo News reported. Addressing lawyers at a meeting of Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA), Asma Jehangir mocked that allocation should also be made in annual budget for the extortion mafia so that people could be spared. "Get ready to stage a sit-in," she asked the lawyers, promising, she would join the sit-down no matter how tense the situation gets that day. The SCBA President said it appears as if there was no presence of law in the city while the "Rangers are present in the city only to occupy schools and colleges". She said the situation was worsening every passing day and that it would itself invite the army to take control. To a question she said people knew very well as to which elements were responsible for disrupting the peace of Karachi. REFERENCE: Asma terms Aman Committee as PPP extortion wing Updated 3 hours ago http://www.thenews.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=21267&title=Aman-Committee-is-PPP-extortion-wing 

Monday, August 22, 2011, Ramzan Al Mubarak 21, 1432 A.H Updated at: 1750   |    

Who is behind Karachi Violence - 1 (Najam Sethi - Aapas Ki Baat - 22-08-2011)

URL: http://youtu.be/ybFumEydts4

Tuesday, August 23, 2011, Ramzan Al Mubarak 22, 1432 A.H

Who is behind Karachi Violence - 2 (Najam Sethi - Aapas Ki Baat - 22-08-2011)

URL: http://youtu.be/OBKQ5gbelOk 

Query: Provide information on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) in Pakistan. Response: SUMMARY: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) has been widely accused of human rights abuses since its founding two decades ago. It claims to represent Mohajirs— Urdu-speaking Muslims who fled to Pakistan from India after the 1947 partition of the subcontinent, and their descendants. In the mid-1990s, the MQM-A was heavily involved in the widespread political violence that wracked Pakistan's southern Sindh province, particularly Karachi, the port city that is the country's commercial capital. MQM-A militants fought government forces, breakaway MQM factions, and militants from other ethnic-based movements. In the mid-1990s, the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, and others accused the MQM-A and a rival faction of summary killings, torture, and other abuses (see, e.g., AI 1 Feb 1996; U.S. DOS Feb 1996). The MQM-A routinely denied involvement in violence. References: Pakistan: Information on Mohajir/Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,USCIS,,,414fe5aa4,0.html


The current MQM-A is the successor to a group called the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) that was founded by Altaf Hussein in 1984 as a student movement to defend the rights of Mohajirs, who by some estimates make up 60 percent of Karachi's population of twelve million. At the time, Mohajirs were advancing in business, the professions, and the bureaucracy, but many resented the quotas that helped ethnic Sindhis win university slots and civil service jobs. Known in English as the National Movement for Refugees, the MQM soon turned to extortion and other types of racketeering to raise cash. Using both violence and efficient organizing, the MQM became the dominant political party in Karachi and Hyderabad, another major city in Sindh. Just three years after its founding, the MQM came to power in these and other Sindh cities in local elections in 1987 (AI 1 Feb 1996; U.S. DOS Feb 1997, Feb 1999; HRW Dec 1997). The following year, the MQM joined a coalition government at the national level headed by Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), which took power in elections following the death of military leader General Zia ul-Haq. This marked the first of several times in the 1980s and 1990s that the MQM joined coalition governments in Islamabad or in Sindh province. Meanwhile, violence between the MQM and Sindhi groups routinely broke out in Karachi and other Sindh cities (AI 1 Feb 1996; Jane's 14 Feb 2003). In 1992, a breakway MQM faction, led by Afaq Ahmed and Aamir Khan, launched the MQM Haqiqi (MQM-H), literally the "real" MQM. Many Pakistani observers alleged that the MQM-H was supported by the government of Pakistan to weaken the main MQM led by Altaf Hussein, which became known as the MQM-A (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). Several smaller MQM factions also emerged, although most of the subsequent intra-group violence involved the MQM-A and the MQM-H (AI 1 Feb 1996; U.S. DOS Feb 1999; Jane's 14 Feb 2003).References: Pakistan: Information on Mohajir/Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,USCIS,,,414fe5aa4,0.html

Political violence in Sindh intensified in 1993 and 1994 (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). In 1994, fighting among MQM factions and between the MQM and Sindhi nationalist groups brought almost daily killings in Karachi (U.S. DOS Feb 1995). By July 1995, the rate of political killings in the port city reached an average of ten per day, and by the end of that year more than 1,800 had been killed (U.S. DOS Feb 1996). The violence in Karachi and other cities began abating in 1996 as soldiers and police intensified their crackdowns on the MQM-A and other groups (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). Pakistani forces resorted to staged "encounter killings" in which they would shoot MQM activists and then allege that the killings took place during encounters with militants (U.S. DOS Feb 1996). Following a crackdown in 1997, the MQM-A adopted its present name, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or United National Movement, which also has the initials MQM (HRW Dec 1997). MQM-A leader Hussein fled in 1992 to Britain, where he received asylum in 1999 (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). The MQM-A is not on the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations (U.S. DOS 23 May 2003). While the multifaceted nature of the violence in Sindh province in the 1980s and 1990s at times made it difficult to pinpoint specific abuses by the MQM-A, the group routinely was implicated in rights abuses. In 1992 after the Sindh government called in the army to crack down on armed groups in the province, facilities were discovered that allegedly were used by the MQM-A to torture and at times kill dissident members and activists from rival groups. In 1996, Amnesty International said that the PPP and other parties were reporting that some of their activists had been tortured and killed by the MQM-A (AI 1 Feb 1996). The MQM-A and other factions also have been accused of trying to intimidate journalists. In one of the most flagrant cases, in 1990 MQM leader Hussein publicly threatened the editor of the monthly NEWSLINE magazine after he published an article on the MQM's alleged use of torture against dissident members (U.S. DOS Feb 1991). The following year, a prominent journalist, Zafar Abbas, was severely beaten in Karachi in an attack that was widely blamed on MQM leaders angered over articles by Abbas describing the party's factionalization. The same year, MQM activists assaulted scores of vendors selling DAWN, Pakistan's largest English-language newspaper, and other periodicals owned by Herald Publications (U.S. DOS Feb 1992). References: Pakistan: Information on Mohajir/Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,USCIS,,,414fe5aa4,0.html

The MQM-A has also frequently called strikes in Karachi and other cities in Sindh province and used killings and other violence to keep shops closed and people off the streets. During strikes, MQM-A activists have ransacked businesses that remained open and attacked motorists and pedestrians who ventured outside (U.S. DOS Feb 1996; Jane's 14 Feb 2003). The MQM-A allegedly raises funds through extortion, narcotics smuggling, and other criminal activities. In addition, Mohajirs in Pakistan and overseas provide funds to the MQM-A through charitable foundations (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). Since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States, the MQM-A has been increasingly critical of Islamic militant groups in Pakistan. The MQM-A, which generally has not targeted Western interests, says that it supports the global campaign against terrorism (Jane's 14 Feb 2003). This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. References: Pakistan: Information on Mohajir/Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,USCIS,,,414fe5aa4,0.html

Who is behind Karachi Violence - 3 (Najam Sethi - Aapas Ki Baat - 22-08-2011)

URL: http://youtu.be/9ZjwN74ctgg

ISLAMABAD: The man who has ruled Sindh as a de facto chief minister for many years finally lost his powers on Saturday. Brigadier Huda, who was an ISI commander in Sindh, was in fact the caretaker of the MQM-PML-Q provincial coalition government. He was responsible for running the coalition in a smooth manner. All major decisions were taken after his consultation. He resolved the differences between former CM Arbab Ghulam Rahim and the MQM many a time. Many provincial ministers even used to say “ooper Khuda aur neechay Huda”. The brigadier’s name figured in the power circles of Islamabad in the evening of May 12, 2007. Brigadier Huda was given credit for the show of massive government power in Karachi on that day. Initially, the MQM was reluctant to hold a rally in Karachi on May 12. The then ISI DG Gen Ashfaq Kayani also had the same opinion that the MQM should not come out on the streets when Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry would visit Karachi. It was Huda who played an important role in convincing the MQM not to cancel its rally. He assured the MQM leadership that there will be no riots on that day though he was proved wrong. He was supposed to be very close to the then Army chief General Pervez Musharraf. However, no action was taken against him. REFERENCE: De facto Sindh CM finally transferred Monday, April 21, 2008 By Hamid Mir http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=14221&Cat=13&dt=4/21/2008

The blasts in the rally of Benazir Bhutto on October 18, 2007 in Karachi were another failure of Brigadier Huda. He was responsible for the security of Benazir Bhutto on that day more than anybody else. However, he was not transferred despite his repeated failures. His downfall started on April 9, 2008, when many people including lawyers were killed in the Karachi violence. It was another failure on the part of Huda. The new PPP government in Sindh felt that Brigadier Huda was still having immense political influence. It believed that he was in contact with the anti-PPP forces. Many important bureaucrats reported to the provincial government that Huda was interfering in different departments. He was more interested in “political makings and breakings” than doing his security job. After the episode of April 9, PPP leaders asked ISI Director General Lt Gen Nadeem Taj through the prime minister that Huda must be transferred. It took just a few days and Huda was transferred. He was replaced by another brigadier. The PPP gave a message that it means business and it will not tolerate any ambitious spymasters. There are rumors in the capital that the ISI DG will also be transferred soon but highly-placed sources in the new government dispelled all these rumours. “The prime minister has the authority to change the ISI DG anytime but right now we don’t need to change him,” claimed a top PPP leader. REFERENCE: De facto Sindh CM finally transferred Monday, April 21, 2008 By Hamid Mir http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=14221&Cat=13&dt=4/21/2008

Who is behind Karachi Violence - 4 (Najam Sethi - Aapas Ki Baat - 22-08-2011)

URL: http://youtu.be/Ee-Xyhyss34

With his healthy plume of gravity-defying hair and chunky tinted glasses, Altaf Hussain is as colourful in appearance as his reputation suggests. Perhaps no other Pakistani politician has as big a list of enemies as the one-time cabbie and university student who transformed himself into one of the most feared political bosses in the country. That he has directed his Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) party from the distant shores of the UK since 1994 speaks volumes for his enduring influence in the treacherous political life of Pakistan. Hussain came to prominence as an advocate for the rights of Pakistan's "muhajir" population – those Urdu-speaking communities that originally travelled to the country from India following partition in 1947. The move to Pakistan was traumatic for the subcontinent's Urdu-speaking communities. They often faced hostile indigenous populations, especially in Sindh and Punjab where most of them settled, and were discriminated against in universities and employment. Hussain's political career was born out of this marginalisation. Had it not been for the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq, however, it is unlikely that he would have risen to prominence. Zia was a master of divide-and-rule politics and sectarianism and ethnic tensions rose under his dictatorship. In Hussain's MQM, Zia saw potential for yet another political platform for dividing would-be federalist opponents. From inception, the MQM's powerbase has been Karachi, Pakistan's simmering, overcrowded economic hub. It is also home to the country's largest Urdu-speaking population. For decades the MQM has dominated local politics, albeit more often than not in manners and means outside the formal parliamentary process. When it ruled Karachi with what critics described as a mafia-like organisation in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the city was engulfed in violence (either endorsed of ignored by the MQM), many of its political opponents mysteriously disappeared only to be later found as corpses, often with the scars of gruesome torture. In 1996 the US state department accused the MQM, along with other political factions, of involvement in torture, summary killings and other abuses. As I noted in an earlier piece for Cif on Karachi, many Karachites have their own personal stories of the period. The army eventually stepped into the chaotic milieu in 1992, setting the stage for a bloody conflict that, at its height between 1992 and 1995, saw up to 10 political activists murdered per day. In the same fighting, Hussain's brothers and several cousins were killed by his opponents. The violence compelled Hussain to flee the country, first to the autocrat-friendly Saudi Arabia and finally to the UK where he still lives. Ever since then, Hussain has been too fearful to return to Pakistan. Yet he remains ubiquitous in Karachi, not least in the MQM posters liberally scattered in the party's stronghold districts. The party faithful sing his praises too, and Hussain still sends his daily orders to them from his Mill Hill residence in North London. One of those orders has been the controversial effort to prevent ethnic Pashtuns taking refuge in the southern state of Sindh while fleeing from the Taliban war in the North West Frontier Province. Hussain and the MQM, the most vocal and vociferous opponents of the Taliban in Pakistan, have spoken regularly of the "Talibanisation" of Karachi owing to its ever-growing Pashtun population, a largely poor community of economic migrants that do much of the menial work in the large port city. Those claims, sparked by rumours that Taliban have slipped into Sindh by posing as refugees and a spate of high-profile police operations against alleged pro-Taliban syndicates in Karachi, have helped add Pakistan's Pashtun population to Hussain's already large list of enemies. The animosity has fuelled a bloody running battle in Karachi between MQM and Pashtun activists from the secular Awami National party that has claimed hundreds of lives. It is difficult to find people outside his MQM who consider Hussain a positive influence. According to the cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, Hussain's MQM is "a fascist movement run by criminals". To be fair to Hussain, however, all of Pakistan's major political parties are beholden to a few powerful individuals or families. And just like those other parties, the MQM has shown a remarkable capacity to make friends of past enemies. Despite its support for the former military dictator Pervez Musharraf and his clamp down on dissent, the MQM is now part of the coalition government currently dominated by the Pakistan Peoples party that spent nine long Musharraf years in opposition. Historically, the PPP's first family, the Bhuttos, have been Hussain's greatest rivals. In recent times the necessities of parliamentary politics have forced both parties to bury the hatchet. Only last week, Pakistan interior adviser and senior PPP stalwart Rehman Malik met Hussain in London to discuss, among other things, the possible addition of MQM parliamentarians to the already bloated federal cabinet. There is little doubt that Hussain will be following events closely from the suburbs of London. He is a political survivor who shows no signs of disappearing quietly into history. REFERENCE: The Karachi king After a bloody conflict in Karachi, much-feared political boss Altaf Hussain fled to London, but he is no less powerful in Pakistan Mustafa Qadri guardian.co.uk, Monday 6 July 2009 18.00 BST http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/06/altaf-hussain-karachi-pakistan-london

The man in charge of Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, was at his usual command-and-control post at the weekend: a sofa in north London. As his fiefdom descended into brutal violence, with the deaths of at least 40 people reported amid the worst political bloodshed Pakistan has witnessed in years, Altaf Hussain directed his followers by telephone from a safe place more than 5,000 miles away. His headquarters, or "international secretariat", is not in the Pakistani port city but housed in a red-brick office block opposite a supermarket on Edgware High Street. Followers of Mr Hussain, 53, whose Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) is allied to President Pervez Musharraf's government, were accused yesterday of playing a bloody part in the clashes with opposition supporters. But in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Hussain insisted that they held a "completely peaceful gathering" and that it was opposition supporters who provoked the violence, in which at least nine MQM activists were killed. When reports of the killings reached Edgware on Saturday morning, Mr Hussain was preparing to address the party by telephone. Three hours later, he defied what he called "agitators" by leaning over the loudspeaker of his phone to speak to his supporters. Opposition activists loyal to Benazir Bhutto were staging their own anti-government rally when the violence began.

But Mr Hussain said: "It was a completely peaceful gathering by MQM supporters that was targeted by a collaboration of three other parties." He said he had called for peace. But as tens of thousands of his followers sat cross-legged in reverential silence as they listened to their leader's telephonic address relayed by loudspeakers, in another street armed MQM activists fired directly into the crowds of opposition protesters. Mr Hussain, who founded the MQM in 1984 specifically to represent the Mohajirs - Muslim refugees from India - has lived in Britian since arriving in 1992 for a kidney operation. He has since become a British citizen, while his party governs five cities and the populous Sind province. He claimed yesterday that his party is the only force to stand up for secular values in Pakistan. "MQM is the only party against all sorts of religious fanaticism in Pakistan," he said. "It is these groups and their influence, which is all around, that is stopping me coming home. A sizeable majority of the army even have been brainwashed to supporting what the Taliban wants to impose." Mr Hussain, who spent part of yesterday speaking on the telephone to Gen Musharraf, warned Pakistan's leader not to make any deals with exiled leaders, such as his rival Miss Bhutto, that would see the military ruler resign from the army. Pakistan faces a referendum on Gen Musharraf's rule before the end of the year and he has promised to abandon his uniform before the poll. "The situation in South Asia does not allow Pervez Musharraf to take off his uniform, for without it he will have no power at all. Because of activities next door in Afghanistan as well as our own country, the Taliban is growing very strong," Mr Hussaid said.

"He is doing his level best to fight these groups. Musharraf is a very brave man. Only he can prevent the Talibanisation of Pakistan." Unlike the former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Miss Bhutto, Mr Hussain is an exile whose party has consolidated its grip. But Karachi remains tense. The MQM's most senior leader in Pakistan, Farooq Sattar, said: "The opposition wants to show that Karachi does not belong to the MQM. We have accepted the challenge." Mr Hussain is one of the Indian subcontinent's more unusual leaders. His political addresses by telephone have been known to last up to four hours, while a Western diplomat in Pakistan described the MQM as "something out of Chicago - nobody leaves the party". While Mr Hussain promotes the party as a secular cause and courts the middle-class vote, his supporters are known to extort a goonda, or thug, tax from Karachi businesses. Mr Hussain, who once drove a taxi in Chicago for a living, micro-manages the MQM with acute attention to detail. The movement runs on Greenwich Mean Time with his ministers in Pakistan fielding hour-long telephone calls into the early hours. Mr Sattar admitted that his party's image had been tarnished by "accusations of fascism and terrorism" but said this was a "misperception". Some observers argue that in the tough city of Karachi the MQM has given a vulnerable group protection and a voice. After Mr Hussain left Pakistan, an army operation was launched against his party during which hundreds of its workers were either killed by police or were arrested on charges of terrorism. He has no plans to return to Pakistan. When asked why Mr Hussain was not deported to Pakistan before he was granted citizenship, a British diplomat said: "He has not committed a crime on British soil." REFERENCE: Running Karachi - from London By Isambard Wilkinson in Karachi and Damien McElroy 12:01AM BST 14 May 2007 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1551540/Running-Karachi-from-London.html 

MQM on Asma Jahangir & 12 May 2007 Tragedy

URL: http://youtu.be/PrTxi2seSSY

KARACHI, Aug 29: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Human Rights of Commission of Pakistan continue to trade allegations following the release of an HRCP report in Lahore on Aug 27 on the May 12 violence. Terming the report baseless and biased, the MQM has asked HRCP chairperson Asma Jahangir to desist from playing politics under the shelter of the human rights body. Speaking at a press conference here on Tuesday, deputy convenor coordination committee Dr Farooq Sattar said the report issued by the HRCP chairperson amounted to contempt of court as a larger bench of the Sindh High Court was hearing a case about the May 12 violence. “This is an attempt to influence the proceeding and the court should take notice of it,” he remarked. He criticised Ms Jahangir for her “mala-fide intention to malign the MQM”. Dr Sattar, however, said that a day before May 12, Ms Jahangir called at the party’s London secretariat and spoke to a senior leader, Mohammad Anwar, telling him that a conspiracy was being hatched against the MQM and there would be bloodshed on May 12. “If she was not involved, then how could she know about the conspiracy and bloodshed in advance?” He said the party had sent all pieces of evidence and details of MQM workers killed on May 12 to national and international rights organisations. However, it was surprising that the HRCP in its report did not bother to incorporate the evidence provided by the MQM, he added. He said the SHC was hearing the May 12 incidents case and any decision to fix responsibility could only be taken by the court. In a press statement on Wednesday, the HRCP said it welcomed comments and critiques on all its reports and in that sense the press conference held by Dr Farooq Sattar was not unexceptional. However, it termed baseless his allegations against the HRCP and its chairperson. “Reports compiled by HRCP are independent of all influences and are not initiated at the behest of any group or individual. HRCP believes in collective decision making by its representatives and those associated with the fact-finding process. All credible information is included,” the statement said. It further said: “Dr Sattar has alleged in his press conference that the MQM sent a bundle of material to HRCP regarding the May 12 violence. HRCP has received no such material. “He has further made malicious allegations of contacts made by the Chairperson of HRCP warning the MQM of a conspiracy against them through bloody ethic violence. This is also baseless. It is amazing that MQM found it fit to disclose such a scandalous fact only after the publication of the HRCP report.” REFERENCE: KARACHI: HRCP report on May 12 violence irks MQM By Our Staff Reporter August 30, 2007 Thursday Sha'aban 16, 1428 http://archives.dawn.com/dawnftp/  

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Asma Jahangir on Wednesday accused the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of having involvement in the bloody incident of May 12, 2007, in Karachi, and requested an independent inquiry into the incident. As many as 49 people were killed and many others wounded four years ago on May 12 when a deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry visited Karachi. Talking to reporters on the Supreme Court premises, the SCBA president along with Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice Chairman Latif Afridi announced that the legal fraternity would observe May 12 (today) as black day to express solidarity with those 49 killed. Asma said that on May 12, 2007, lawyers, journalists and members of civil society, who wanted to accord a rousing welcome to Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry deposed by former dictator Pervez Musharraf, were killed in Karachi. She demanded a free inquiry into the incident, and announced that on Thursday (today) the SCBA was convening a “protest meeting” at the apex court. The PBC vice chairman appealed to the CJP to take suo motu notice of the May 12 incident. REFERENCE: Asma blames MQM for May 12, 2007 incident Staff Report Thursday, May 12, 2011 http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\05\12\story_12-5-2011_pg7_2 

LAHORE, Aug 29: The Labour Party Pakistan has criticised the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for launching a propaganda campaign against the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) for presenting a report on May 12 incidents in Karachi. Party Secretary-General Farooq Tariq said there was no justification for the MQM to initiate a whispering campaign against HRCP Chairperson Asma Jehangir because the commission was a non-political organization which continued investigating the incidents of individual and state terrorism and issue reports. Asma Jehangir was a human rights activist and had nothing to do with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Mr Tariq said the MQM had been irritated over the HRCP report because it showed its involvement in the carnage. He said workers of Labour Party and other organisations had expressed fears about violence when the government and the MQM decided to organise a rally in Karachi on May 12 on the arrival of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. He said that if the MQM had any videotape about May 12 incidents in Karachi it should make it public without editing. REFERENCE: MQM rapped for ‘drive against Asma’ By Our Reporter August 30, 2007 Thursday Sha'aban 16, 1428 http://archives.dawn.com/dawnftp/ 

KARACHI, Aug 30: A top official of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said on Thursday that the organisation tried to restrain the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) from creating “mayhem” on May 12 when the independent rights body’s chief telephoned the MQM leadership a day before and advised them to avoid conflict during the chief justice’s visit to the city. “Our chairperson tried to persuade the MQM leadership to hold its rally on any other day and avoid the possibility of conflict. She did nothing else. The MQM leaders’ allegations against her are baseless and concocted,” Iqbal Haider, secretary-general of the HRCP, said at the launch of their report on the May 12 events at the organisation’s Karachi office. Referring to the recent statement of Dr Farooq Sattar, deputy convener of the MQM’s coordination committee, in which he termed the HRCP report “partisan” and said the report was not appropriate considering that the matter was sub judice, Mr Haider said that in fact the HRCP was assisting the Sindh High Court in the suo motu case pertaining to the May 12 violence. “Such statements do not befit those who attacked the judiciary and detained lawyers. They themselves committed the greatest contempt of court by not allowing the chief justice of Pakistan to come out of the airport. Their allegations against the HRCP contradict their own role,” he said.

He asked Dr Sattar to produce the “unedited version” of the tape of Asma Jehangir’s conversation with the MQM leadership so that the truth was told in its “real sprit” to the public. “The tape should be genuine, unedited and not distorted to let people know what she had advised to the MQM,” he said. Mr Haider said the report, titled “A City Under Siege: Carnage in Karachi,” had been submitted to all the seven judges of the larger bench of the SHC conducting proceedings into the May 12 events on Thursday. “We’ll appear in court on Monday when the proceedings of the case are scheduled to resume,” he said. Mr Haider said the investigations were conducted by impartial volunteers and prepared without any political influence or partiality. According to him, the May 12 killings had no precedence in the past because never before had the police and other law-enforcement agencies been asked to relinquish control of law and order and adopt the role of “mere spectators.” “The government failed to discharge its duties in protecting and safeguarding the lives of its citizens, and it failed deliberately,” he claimed.

‘15 million held hostage’

The report says May 12 represented something quite unprecedented in the history of Pakistan. “In quantitative terms the violence perpetrated on that day might find parallel only very occasionally. Well over 40 people lost their lives, and the number of the injured ran into the hundreds. But it was in qualitative terms that the events were truly without historical comparison. “An entire city of nearly 15 million was held hostage by people who appeared to be private citizens. The violence and the threat of violence engulfed nearly all localities of this huge city – in the east, west, north, south and the centre,” says the report.It says the escalation of tensions in the build-up to May 12 was entirely avoidable. The idea of a showdown between supporters of the CJ – who, despite the reference, was a serving functionary of the state – and supporters of a political party was “almost entirely artificially created.” “There was nothing inherently antagonistic in the two positions held by the supporters of the lawyers’ movement and the MQM that warranted any form of violence or bloodshed. It appears almost incomprehensible that large-scale violence of various types – roadblocks, ambushes, armed clashes, abductions etc – was meticulously planned and executed across the city, while the state security apparatus was effectively withdrawn.” The report says May 12, 2007 will be remembered as the day the state withdrew. “While the loss of precious lives is the most deplorable aspect of the day, a matter of grave concern from the perspective of institutional integrity of the state is the virtual withdrawal of the state’s security apparatus for almost 20 hours and the actual takeover of the city by armed cadres of one or more than one political party,” it says. “For some apparently inexplicable reason, the objective was to stop the CJ – a serving state functionary – from being received by his lawyer and political supporters. It is clear from the benefit of hindsight that all of the actions of the Sindh government – which was the main state organ responsible for security – were geared to achieve this aim.” The report holds responsible the Sindh provincial government and the federal security agencies such as the Rangers and military – “that arrogate and retain de facto and de jure policing duties in Karachi” -- for the gory events. “To this extent the functionaries of the federal and provincial governments and military and paramilitary forces stationed in Karachi bear responsibility.” It says that the MQM, to a great extent, and other political parties, to a smaller extent, have a case to answer. “All the evidence shows that these parties, particularly the MQM, acted like organised military forces, which mobilised large numbers of people to carry out acts of brutal violence against their opponents as well as non-partisan citizens. For this the level of responsibility needs to be more specific and direct than the one implied in the notion of collective political responsibility.” “The MQM, or at least its military organisation, bears the direct and specific responsibility for the majority of the violence. Residual responsibility lies with the armed supporters of other political and religious parties,” the HRCP report says. REFERENCE: KARACHI: ‘HRCP urged MQM to avoid May 12 conflict’ by Hasan Mansoor August 31, 2007 Friday Sha'aban 17, 1428 http://archives.dawn.com/dawnftp/

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