May issue 2009
Interview: Shahi Sayed
Q: Karachi was rocked by severe violence during the last week of April. Being a part of the provincial government, what role did the ANP play for the restoration of law and order?
A: It is not correct to say that we are not playing our role in maintaining peace. We are sitting in the government and attend every meeting convened by the government for peace. We have even joined a committee set up by the chief minister to work on this issue. We have also agreed that we would not support criminal elements. It is the duty of the police to arrest the culprits, whosoever they might be and whichever party they may belong to. We have also asked the government that no political party should be allowed to put pressure for the release of their criminal members. Let the courts decide. On April 27, out of the 33 people killed on the streets of Karachi, the majority were Pakhtuns. Only the poor and working class people were killed. They [the MQM] say there are Taliban in Karachi, but actually they are killing small peanut and fruit vendors and bus conductors. How can we support the Taliban when we are their biggest victims? The Taliban have killed our people in the NWFP. Pakhtuns come to Karachi because of the worsening situation in their areas and they live here in very tough conditions, without having basic facilities.
Q: The ANP government in the NWFP has signed a deal with the Taliban in Malakand to restore law and order. Why is your party not signing such a deal with the MQM for peace in Karachi?
A: We have always made efforts for peace and joint work. In Karachi, also, we held meetings with the chief minister and prime minister and we appealed to the government to provide protection to the Pakhtuns. We have appealed to the Urdu-speaking people to stop the criminals. But some elements in the city want to protect their political hegemony. They do not allow us to live peacefully. Basic facilities are not available in Pakhtun localities, they do not have right to get admission in schools or even to make identity cards.
Q: The ANP has given a strike call on May 12. When there is already disturbance and tension in the city, why don’t you observe the anniversary in a peaceful way?
A: When your relatives die, you observe their anniversaries every year. We say people of every political party were killed on May 12, 2007, in Karachi. Even the MQM claims that its people were killed, so every party should observe the anniversary to remember their loved ones. A number of PPP workers were also killed on that day, therefore, we have suggested that the government announce a holiday only in Karachi on May 12. Our strike call will be peaceful as we do not want any confrontation. It is the democratic right of everyone to protest. Even advocates and judges will observe the day because it is an important day in our history.
Q: It is a known fact that every Pakhtun keeps arms as a tradition, but this tradition is misused by criminal elements in Karachi. So will the ANP play a role to control arms in the city?
A: We have already asked our members and all Pakhtuns living in Karachi not to keep arms without licenses. Even I will surrender my licensed arms, if everyone else does so. Every political party has acquired sophisticated arms and God forbid, if those arms are used, there could be a big massacre in Karachi.
Q: The Taliban tend to be mainly Pakhtuns. How does one distinguish the Taliban from ordinary Pakhtuns in Karachi?
A: It is the duty of the law-enforcement agencies to identify the Taliban because they have created them. The Taliban are not my creation. I cannot distinguish the Taliban and the ordinary Pakhtun of Swat or elsewhere. We have adopted our own system of registration of Pakhtuns who are displaced from Swat, Buner or other affected areas and are coming to Karachi. Every such family is registered. We have a record of about 2,000 such affected families and some relief is also being provided to them.
Q: Land-grabbing is a serious issue in Karachi and most of the land-grabbers are alleged to be Pakhtuns. How can this be stopped?
A: There are two types of land-grabbers. The first are professionals, who are armed and grab lands by force. These type of people belong to every political party. Because they have money and arms, so they grab government land. The second type of encroachers are supported by the administration or police. It is a known fact that we have never supported land encroachers, and those who are raising a hue and cry against are using it as a political slogan.