The acerbic Sindh home minister lived up to his billing on Monday, launching a none too veiled, vitriolic attack on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and blaming it for the wave of targeted killings that have bedevilled Karachi over the past few months.
“Dr Imran Farooq was murdered in London, but buses of Pakhtuns were torched in Karachi. Did Asfandyar Wali kill Dr Imran Farooq?” Mr Mirza said, spelling out a litany of complaints against the MQM.
“When they want to kill any Pakhtun, Sindhi, Punjabi or Baloch in Karachi, they go about executing their plan methodically,” Mr Mirza alleged in a speech to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Out of 60 suspects arrested so far in the wake of targeted killings, 26 belong to the MQM while the rest belong to the Awami National Party, Sunni Tehrik and MQM-Haqiqi.
The MQM hit back at the outburst with a statement that it would take up the matter with the president and the prime minister.
“The Muttahida Qaumi Movement has decided to approach the president and the prime minister to lodge a strong protest against an unwarranted provocative speech” by the Sindh home minister, said a press release issued after a meeting of the MQM’s coordination committee called to discuss the home minister’s broadside, in Karachi and London.
The party would send a delegation to meet President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani after Ashura and show them the video recording of the speech, it added.
The MQM also asked its leaders and workers not to get provoked by the home minister’s statement and work for maintaining peace during Muharram.
In the speech, Mr Mirza went on to say: “They should think about the day when the victimised communities go for a tit-for-tat action. If this happens many innocent Urdu-speaking people may be killed. The lust for power is behind the worsening law and order situation in Karachi.”
He admitted that he had failed to improve the law and order situation in Karachi, but said that other coalition parties in Sindh were equally responsible for it.
Mr Mirza recalled that during a meeting a few days ago he had requested Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad to “have mercy on the people of Karachi for God’s sake