KARACHI: As the 48-hour deadline given by the government to suspected gangsters in Lyari to surrender expired on Sunday evening without eliciting any response from them, the police and Rangers appeared to have no plan to launch a decisive operation in Lyari anytime soon.
While Rangers patrolled the strife-hit areas and also carried out random spot checks that they described as part of a routine exercise, a news channel quoted the police chief as hinting at plans to launch targeted operations in some localities instead of a large-scale crackdown.
The police and Frontier Constabulary personnel had withdrawn from Lyari on Friday evening after failing to achieve desired results during the weeklong operation that had left at least 36 people, including five policemen, dead and over 150 others wounded.
Following the pull-out, Interior Minister Rehman Malik had told the media that the operation had been deferred for 48 hours only to be relaunched jointly by the police and Rangers.
But on Sunday, Sindh IG Mushtaq Shah was quoted by a private TV channel as saying that the Lyari operation was not going to resume anytime soon. “An operation will not be carried out but targeted actions will be conducted in Lyari. The decision has been taken keeping in view the inconvenience caused to the residents during the operation.”
No senior police officer was available to comment on the proposed Lyari operation though the Rangers began patrolling the areas and carried out random spot checks on vehicles.
“It’s our routine patrolling of Lyari and its nothing out of the extra-ordinary,” said Brig Waseem Ayub of the Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, dispelling the impression that they were going to have any sort of engagement in Lyari.
Visit to Lyari’s outskirts
Earlier during the day, Interior Minister Rehman Malik visited the trans-Lyari areas but didn’t go deep into the Lyari proper.
He took a round of the ICI bridge on Mauripur Road, Kharadar, New Chali, Napier Road and Lea Market where he met people who complained of sufferings they had undergone in the weeklong operation. They said that if an operation had to be carried out, Rangers should be given the task.
The minister assured them that they would not face inconvenience if an operation was conducted.
When his attention was drawn by some media persons to the fact that Lea Market did not constitute the Lyari proper, he replied that he was not afraid to tour Lyari.
Meanwhile, life returned to normality in Lyari following the last week gunfights between police and gangsters.
The clashes had compelled the residents to stay indoors with little access to basic facilities, while the power supply to the strife-hit areas had remained suspended throughout the week.
The power utility maintenance teams had begun repairing damaged pole-mounted transformers on Saturday.