Ban on armed wings of parties sought
KARACHI: A ban on armed wings of political parties, deweaponisation and political tolerance are essential to restore peace to the city, said speakers on the opening day of a two-day peace conference on Saturday.
Representatives of political parties, civil society, lawyers, labour unions and minority communities attending the conference held at the Arts Council also called for implementation of the apex court order, which was handed down in the suo motu case related to frequent targeted killings in the city, in letter and spirit.
The event was organised by the Sindh High Court, Karachi and Malir bar associations.
Anis Haroon of the Aurat Foundation said that absence of war did not mean peace. But peace could be established through social justice and protecting the rights of all segments of society, she said.
“The level of tolerance against violence is growing in society, which is one of the main factors behind violent incidents,” she observed, adding that violence and injustice must not be tolerated at any cost.
She was of the opinion that the law and order situation of the city was a political issue and recommended that political parties should ban their armed wings for the sake of peace.
Lawmaker Iqbal Qadiri of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement said that some elements had weakened state institutions for their vested interests. It was an international conspiracy to destroy the peace of Karachi, he said.
He appealed to the judiciary to convict the culprits instead of going into technicalities as its key to keep peace.
Bashir Jan of the Awami National Party suggested that free and fair election in accordance with the orders of the apex court, indiscriminate operation against criminals, deweaponisation and amendments to the anti-terror law for witness protection were necessary to pave the way for establishing an abiding peace.
MQM’s Muqeem Alam said local government and local policing systems besides acceptance of public mandate could improve law and order.
Zia Abbas of the National People’s Party said there was a need to develop political tolerance in order to keep peace and improve governance.
He added that armed wings of political parties must be banned. He also believed that foreign elements were involved in the breakdown of law and order in Karachi and Quetta.
Mehfooz Yar Khan of the Awami Muslim League said that ethnic and sectarian elements were behind the violence. He called for deweaponisation of the city. He also said that strict action should be taken against those involved in pre-poll rigging and land encroachment.
Saleem Khursheed Khokhar representing religious minority communities said that tolerance of divergent political and religious views was a must to restore peace.
Siddique Rathore of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan linked peace with the hanging of hundreds of condemned prisoners. He added that criminals must be brought to justice in order to maintain peace.
Abdul Khalid Junejo of the Jeay Sindh Mahaz said that unregulated influx of people into Karachi was a hurdle in the way of peace. He called for legislation to regulate and monitor entry of people into the provincial metropolis.
Movement Prof N.D. Khan of the Pakistan People’s Party asked the legal fraternity to build pressure across the country, as they did against a military dictator a few years ago, to bring peace to the city.
He deplored that while a large number of law-enforcement agencies personnel were deployed for the security of VIPs, only 15,000 policemen were available to maintain law and order in the city.
Women rights activist Kausar Saeed Khan recommended a roundtable conference of all stakeholders to chalk out a comprehensive strategy before launching a movement for peace.
President of the Sindh High Court Bar Association Mustafa Lakhani said a declaration about recommendations for maintaining peace to be adopted on the final day of the conference and the same would also be sent to the apex court.
Retired Justice Salahuddin, Syed Ghulam Shah of the Sindh United Party, labour union leader Noor Mohammad and others also spoke.