The South Asia Channel

MQM party chief calls for military administration in Karachi

MQM party chief calls for military administration in Karachi

Calling for reinforcements

Altaf Hussain, the party chief of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), issued a statement on Tuesday demanding that the city administration in Karachi be handed over to the military (Dawn).  Citing a worsening security situation, Hussain accused the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which controls the provincial government, of failing to protect the people in Karachi’s Lyari neighborhood.  Karachi, the capital of Sindh province, is home to multiple conflicts that often turn violent, including tensions between gangs and ethnic and political rivals. 

PPP leader Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah opposed the demand, saying that creating a military administration in Karachi could undermine democracy in the area and have larger unintended consequences (ET).  MQM deputy Farooq Sattar continued the back-and-forth by saying that the party’s demand for military supervision in Karachi was lawful and democratic under Article 149, Clause 4 of the Pakistani constitution, an article the Sindh government has used before to bring Army Rangers into the province (ET).  According to an online survey by Pakistan’s Express Tribune, 200 people (80%) have said that the army should be called in to help control violence in the city while only 50 people (20%) have opposed the move.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, the prime minister in Pakistan-controlled Azad Jammu Kashmir, asked the United Nations to stop the Indian army from firing shells across the Line of Control in Kashmir and demanded that the India recall its troops from the region (ET).  Majeed’s statements came as ongoing skirmishes between the two nuclear-armed neighbors entered a third week.  On Monday, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, a Kashmiri separatist leader, sent letters to Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging them to meet in New York next month during the U.N. General Assembly and to end the hostilities along the border (NY Daily News).  He added that no one would gain anything if the security situation was allowed to worsen.

Lawyers for former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf presented a list of defense witnesses on Tuesday to the court in Rawalpindi that charged him last week in connection with the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto (RFE/RL).  The court accused Musharraf of failing to provide adequate security for Bhutto and charged him with murder, criminal conspiracy to murder, and facilitation of murder.  He pleaded not guilty to all three charges. 

Aid workers killed 

Twelve Afghan civilians were killed on Monday by suspected militants in two separate incidents in the country’s Herat and Paktia provinces, according to Afghan officials (AP).  In Herat, the bodies of six National Solidarity Program workers were found in the Gulran district, two days after they had been kidnapped (Pajhwok).  According to Wahid Qatali, a provincial council chief, it was the first attack targeting aid workers in the province.  Rohullah Samon, a spokesman in Paktia province, told reporters that the bodies of six unidentified civilians were found by a road in the province on Tuesday but did not provide further details.  No group has claimed responsibility for either attack. 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the killings from Islamabad, while taking a swipe at his hosts by saying: "The killing of innocent engineers and workers shows that the Taliban and their foreign masters want Afghanistan to be a impoverished and underdeveloped country forever" (Reuters).  Despite the hint of continued tension between the two countries, Karzai extended his visit to Pakistan by one day to continue in-depth discussions on the reconciliation talks with the Afghan Taliban (Pajhwok, RFE/RL).  Aimal Faizi, a presidential spokesman, said the extended discussions were focused on how the countries could work together to make the talks a success (Pajhwok).

The Washington Post profiled the town on Tarok Kolache in its Sunday edition, revisiting the town nearly three years after it was leveled in a U.S. airstrike (Post).  In 2010, the town was a Taliban stronghold and "a virtual factory" for the bombs killing and wounding U.S. soldiers; now the Taliban has fled but the town remains a sandy ruin.  According to Niaz Mohammad, the village’s de facto patriarch, the Taliban were "only fighting in the first place because the Americans were here."  Army Col. David Flynn, the commander who ordered the air strike, said: "I think about Tarok Kolache every day.  There were no good options there."  While U.S. soldiers withdrew from the town earlier this summer, only a few villagers have returned to the area.

Women in mini-skirts

In a note posted to their Facebook page in July, the New York Times asked Afghans if Western-influenced laws and changes, like the proposed law on eliminating violence against women, were helping the country and the mixed results are in (NYT).  While many submissions talked about the freedoms women enjoyed in the 1970s – several specifically referenced photos of their mothers wearing miniskirts – and suggested that these laws were just reintroducing Afghanistan to democratic and progressive values, others argued that the laws have little meaning for the portion of the population that has only known conflict. 

— Bailey Cahall