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Karachi - Not A Political Problem!

September 15, 2011

By Dr. Khalil Ahmad

“And it is our deep conviction that if the Ahrar had been treated as a pure question of law and order, without any political considerations, one District Magistrate and one Superintendent of Police could have dealt with them. Consequently, we are prompted by something that they call a human conscience to enquire whether, in our present state of political development, the administrative problem of law and order cannot be divorced from a democratic bed fellow called a Ministerial Government, which is so remorselessly haunted by political nightmares. But if democracy means the subordination of law and order to political ends – then Allah knoweth best and we end the report.” (Justice Munir Inquiry Report 1954, P. 387)



September 15, 2011

By Dr. Khalil Ahmad

“And it is our deep conviction that if the Ahrar had been treated as a pure question of law and order, without any political considerations, one District Magistrate and one Superintendent of Police could have dealt with them. Consequently, we are prompted by something that they call a human conscience to enquire whether, in our present state of political development, the administrative problem of law and order cannot be divorced from a democratic bed fellow called a Ministerial Government, which is so remorselessly haunted by political nightmares. But if democracy means the subordination of law and order to political ends – then Allah knoweth best and we end the report.” (Justice Munir Inquiry Report 1954, P. 387)

The latest cliché is: Karachi is a political problem!

Explanations vary. Some say it cannot be solved only by resorting to force; some assert that even if you call Army, in the end it will require political resolution. Or any such views in various wordings abound.

From army, rangers, police, to TV talk show hosts, their guests; from politicians, representatives of civil society, personalities from the elite classes, to op-ed writers, columnists, news-analysts - all are parroting the same refrain: Karachi is a political problem and all the stakeholders should sit together and resolve it.

The writer thinks otherwise: Karachi is not a political problem, though no doubt it's a problem which has both been created and complicated by the politicians and political parties. In his view, Karachi is an administrative problem. In fact, Karachi is a problem of law and order; a problem emerged due to the lack of the rule of law and supremacy of the law. It's a problem of absence of an efficient system of dispensation of justice. In the last analysis, it's a problem of securing fundamental rights to the citizens of Karachi.

Instead, the political parties put all these vital issues on the back burner. They relegated them, but to promote their own heinous political gains, and played havoc with the lives and properties of the citizens of Karachi. It was they who gave rise to and strengthened the criminal politics in Karachi. That's why they are not the stakeholders (how could criminals be the stakeholders?), the citizens of Karachi are the real stakeholders.

Also, both the federal and provincial governments are accomplice in this game. They did not meet their administrative and constitutional responsibilities in Karachi. They miserably failed in protecting the citizens' lives and properties there.

It was back in 1954 that Justice Muhammad Munir and Justice M. R. Kayani, while concluding their Report of Inquiry into the 1953 Punjab Disturbances, wrote (it's the last para and last words of the Report):

“And it is our deep conviction that if the Ahrar had been treated as a pure question of law and order, without any political considerations, one District Magistrate and one Superintendent of Police could have dealt with them. Consequently, we are prompted by something that they call a human conscience to enquire whether, in our present state of political development, the administrative problem of law and order cannot be divorced from a democratic bed fellow called a Ministerial Government, which is so remorselessly haunted by political nightmares. But if democracy means the subordination of law and order to political ends – then Allah knoweth best and we end the report.” (Justice Munir Inquiry Report 1954, P. 387)

So, the disease afflicting Pakistan is not new. It's age-old; sort of a disease Pakistan was born with. It is this same disease that divided Pakistan into two, and has begotten "Karachi" of today.

The treatment of the disease was/is very simple, but till now it has not been taken recourse to. It lies in having independent institutions, not working under the will of the politicians and political parties, but taking their 'elan vital' from the laws and the constitution of the country. First and foremost, courts and police must be independent, so that political parties are not able to induct their cronies, agents, and touts in them – the ones who draw their salaries from the tax money of the citizens, but work to protect the dirty games of their masters.

The problem of Karachi is an administrative one, and needs to be dealt with according to the demands of maintaining law and order, and there must not be any political interference, and any shadow of political considerations either while these institutions play their role. The law must take its course in Karachi, no matter which political party is in power. That's the way to resolve the Karachi's administrative problem.

The writer is founder/head of the Alternate Solutions Institute.





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