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Businesses divided on army’s role in Karachi

Businesses divided on army’s role in Karachi

KARACHI: Rising political temperature and the worsening law and order situation in the city are deeply worrying to the businesses, and some of them are looking to the army to step forward and clear up the mess.

“It is very unfortunate that the uncertainty is haunting businesses at a time when they are looking with interest at opportunities in the wake of expected Chinese investment in the country,” said Iftikhar A. Vohra, the president of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

Some think military intervention is the only solution, given the current state of affairs.

“I don’t see any other option workable in the evolving scenario but to give the control of Karachi to the army,” said Rashid Ahmed Siddiqui, the chairman of Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI). “It is an undeniable fact that the business community feels safe and secured and perceive the conditions more stable under army’s rule.”

However, he said that letting the army take control of the city’s administration should be the last option and only be availed when other possible options failed.

By contrast, North Karachi Association of Trade and Industry (NKATI) Chairman Abdul Rasheed Fodderwala was not inclined to accept the proposed solution. “Let the Rangers curb lawlessness and street crimes with the help of the police,” he said. “The democratic set-up should be protected at any cost.”

He said the city’s businessmen have been in distress for the last one week fearing the worst. He advised the authorities concerned to bring down the political heat without compromising the law and order situation.

Site Association of Industry (SAI) Chairman Mohammad Jawed Bilwani said the army should take over Karachi for a limited period, till the street crimes and law and order situation return to normal. “The army can restore law and order within three months. Its presence would restore the confidence of local and foreign investors.”

He regretted that both federal and provincial governments failed to take the businessmen on board, despite the fact that they had high stakes in the city.

“Fear and uncertainty have returned to Karachi,” said Atiq Mir, the president of All Karachi Tajir Itehad (AKTI). Although the cases of extortion and kidnapping for ransom have dropped significantly, the street crimes persist, he said.

He said that the sales, which were already slow, have further plunged by 40-50 per cent for the last one week. Atiq claimed that the trading community did not support direct military intervention.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2015

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