Army Gives Clear Deadline to Settle Karachi Issue

– By Aijaz Ahmed

IH Exclusive Report

The cat seems to have finally come out of the bag after dilly-dallying and procrastination of about three months as military top brass has issued a clear cut deadline to the struggling and fragile political government both in the center and the province to settle Karachi issue by 30th October, sources in the power corridors have revealed with complete confidence and authority.

Zardari-Kayani meeting, a file photo

This scribe saw fear on the faces of many in the ruling structure, and heard certain whispers in the parliament lobbies and pathways of other buildings on the power map of Islamabad ever since the military spokesperson issued a statement on Karachi issue in very awkward manner that put already weak government under further pressure. The fear appeared to have increased manifold the day Army Chief had a detailed meeting with president Asif Ali Zardari at the Capital Hill of Islamabad.

The follow up event, which was none other than the corps commanders’ meeting, was an additional factor due to its unusual end as no formal statement was issued against the normal practice for the last so many years. The footage issued by ISPR was also evident of the fact that the military top commanders were looking grim and worried over the situation of Karachi. The military hierarchy seemed to be under pressure more so as a large number of the common Pakistanis and almost all analysts of high stature consider army leadership responsible for the situation due to its clear-cut support for MQM, a creation of General Zia ul Haq.

The latest deterioration in the situation in Karachi appeared to be due to the multiple factors with the political interests of MQM remaining at the top. The worsening situation has alarmed every one as the situation strengthened fears about the very survival of Pakistan. Many among the political forces, traders, and even liberal intellectuals who have been posturing neutrality are very much disappointed in the present political dispensation and have demanded the deployment of Army under Article 245 of the Constitution.

Only two rival political parties, PPP and PML-N were still resisting army action due to certain reasons. However army was looking reluctant to accept the responsibility, but at the later stage the thinking appeared to have changed and an indication of will was given by Army Chief himself few days back. In this scenario the army chief had a one to one meeting with the president. The insiders having close relations with both presidency and the GHQ are of the view that the army chief has conveyed sentiments of his colleagues in the army to the civilian government. Sources from both sides confided that the October 30th has been given as deadline with a clear-cut message that ‘if the situation does not improve and issues are not addressed then we will address Karachi issue in our own way’. The message, according to the sources, has spread fear among the top party leadership as this is not only a message for an action in Karachi, but also an indication of distrust over the competence and abilities of the civilian government to deal with the situations, sources maintained. The action will not remain confined to Karachi only, the government at center and the provinces will be sent back home was the actual message between the lines, sources added. ….

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