Culprits are neither Rangers nor MQM
Mian Saifur Rehman
Neither Rangers nor MQM are the culprits. The culprit is the overall ambience of insecurity that has left limited choices for all the stakeholders particularly for the responsible ones in the security apparatus.
The same happened that was feared, i.e. the Rangers conducted a raid in Karachi which is being misconstrued and falsely projected by some people as a raid on MQM headquarters. The fact is that even if the Rangers got hold of some MQM people for interrogation and recovered contraband arms, the operation was not at all politically motivated for bringing a bad name or for suppressing MQM. The mere coincidence that the raid was conducted at the spot that is dear to MQM should not be taken as an anti-MQM exercise. The reason for this differentiation is not very difficult to understand. In order to understand the reality behind, one should simply take into consideration one fact that, since long, Karachi has become a hub of extremist violence, terrorism that is escalating vertically as well as horizontally. Accordingly, some kind of search-cum-action operations were direly needed since long which was, however, withheld in the past due to political expediency. At that time, the governments of the day had been putting their full weight behind postponement of operations of all kinds despite the input to the contrary from the security and intelligence agencies.
The security and intelligence set-ups have always been demanding ruthless, non-discriminatory, unbiased search and action operation without taking into consideration the reaction and misleading publicity that would paint justified actions as prejudiced moves to decimate a political party or a particular group of people with a distinct identity.
Whenever, plans were made to go ahead on this non-discriminatory track, powerful voices would be raised in opposition in order to pollute and ‘frighten’ the political-cum-social atmosphere accompanied with ‘actionable’ threats to peace.
But, of late, when the things started crossing all the limits and became excessively intolerable, no choice was left with the State other than going for a ruthless operation without even thinking which outlaw belonged to which party and what would be the consequences. This approach had become totally justified rather the need of the times and the operator had to be the State. If Rangers came in action they only acted on behalf of the State and not as an individual entity which has certain negative designs on a political party. If reason is applied objectively, there is no sense in thinking that the Rangers had any ill will against MQM. Both the Rangers and the MQM are national entities committed to- and engaged in- their respective functions all of which aim at strengthening the national fabric. Secondly, as alleged by one MQM leader that the ruling PML-N avenged MQM’s non-voting for PML-N candidate in Senate chairman’s election, this accusation too doesn’t hold water because Rangers have nothing to do with PML-N. Even an ordinary peasant having no concern for politics is convinced that despite the fact that Rangers are under the command of Interior Ministry, it (the force) works like armed forces and its senior command ranks are basically officers of the Army. And this fact is an undeniable fact that the armed forces act under the Constitution and law and have no political leanings either towards PML-N or against MQM.
Let us assume that had the wanted criminals, proclaimed offenders and absconding convicts been found hiding in a PML-N office in Karachi or elsewhere along with huge cache of lethal weapons, what would have been the Rangers’ response? The answer is that the Rangers’ response would have been the same that was witnessed during their raid at and around Nine Zero.
Additionally, it is commonly believed that the general public had become fed up with massive escalation in acts of violence in which no one was safe. And those who were safe for the time being felt equally scared and terrorised. So, in these circumstances, ruthless, across the board operations i.e. search-and-action operations had to be carried out one day. Now, operations of such scale and manner, whenever conducted, just can’t be exempted from collateral damage. Collateral damage, in fact, is an essential corollary of operations of any kind except that maximum precautionary measures can be taken before the operations provided there is no apprehension of dangerous desperados escaping action and shifting of deadly armoury to ‘safer’ havens/ or not-so-visible, underground facilities.
In the area of precautionary measures, two main steps are taken, one is getting precise information as to the presence of dangerous killers, terrorists etc. Technically speaking, intelligence is the right term for this type of information. The other important measure is taking action after getting the targeted area vacated by the ordinary population.
Security forces, especially the Rangers and army, whenever conduct operation, they do take precautionary measures but during the last many conspicuous and inconspicuous security forces’ actions, it has been seen that shrewd terrorists and killers have been spreading their tentacles in densely populated areas, sometimes with the tacit support of a few (few influential) locals and at other times, just on the power of possession of weaponry. This latter aspect creates obstacles and delays operations in certain areas where they are necessary. The reason is that the forces want totally zero collateral damage in terms of civilian casualties and/or accompanying losses but on most of the occasions they have been facing difficulties due to the refuge taken by killers and terrorists in populated areas.
Still, moves are planned with cool calculation with focus on protecting the citizens and grabbing the criminals through play-safe operations. This procedure is being followed with extra care by Rangers, Army and LEAs (Law Enforcement Agencies). It must also be noted that the procedure followed for conducting a raid is almost the same all over the world. Where intelligence is such that heavy lethal armaments including contraband weapons have been amassed somewhere and desperadoes and absconding convicts are present, then it becomes very difficult for the operating agencies to adopt wait and see policy.