Malik bemoans bike ruling, to no avail
ISLAMABAD, Nov 16: Hours after the Sindh High Court suspended his ban on motorbike ride in Karachi for a day, Interior Minister Rehman Malik went to both houses of parliament on Friday to bemoan the move, but to no avail.
First in the Senate and then in the National Assembly, before the two houses went into a two-day weekend recess, the minister expressed his frustration both with the overnight order by the provincial chief justice, which was confirmed on Friday, and lawmakers for not passing more stringent legislation to help prosecute terrorists.
Mr Malik defended his Thursday’s order by using federal powers under Article 148 of the Constitution to ban the use of motorbikes in Karachi and Quetta on Friday as a security precaution at the start of the holy month of Muharram because of what he called intelligence reports that the two-wheel vehicle could be used to bomb processions planned by both Sunni and Shia mourners.
“Motorcycle has become a live bomb,” the minister said in his policy statement in the National Assembly as he cited his ministry’s figures that he said showed that motorbikes had been used in more than 96 per cent of bomb blasts in Karachi and in 438 bombings in the country this year.
He said he had taken Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and the Sindh government into confidence before issuing the order under Article 148, which commits the federal government to “protect every province against external aggression and internal disturbances”.
“What will I tell those mothers whose sons or husbands may be killed (by terrorist acts)?” he asked as he spoke of dangers motorbike-riders could pose to mourning processions.
The minister’s identical observations on the issue in the Senate came while he wound up a prolonged debate on the law and order carried over from the previous session while his policy statement in the National Assembly followed a demand made in a speech on a point of order by a member of the government-allied Muttahida Qaumi Movement from Karachi, Shaikh Salahuddin, that he explain threats to law and order that had prompted him to order the ban on the use of motorbikes.
A member of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N from Balochistan, Lt-Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, speaking after the minister’s statement, criticised the ban order because he said it would have hit “poor people” going to work by motorbike.
There was no immediate response to an earlier complaint by an independent member from Balochistan, Mohammad Usman Khan Advocate, that a hospital and press club in his home town of Khuzdar had been shut down for a month now because of threats to the lives of doctors and journalists from armed warlords.
The member demanded that the government disarm and deny “state patronage” to the unidentified warlords, empower the local deputy commissioner and police, withdraw the paramilitary Frontier Corps from there and reopen the hospital and press club.