In surprise raids on three different offices of Anwar Majeed, a close aide to ex-President Asif Zardari, Rangers claimed to have arrested a key man, besides seizing important records, laptops, and recovering illicit arms and ammunition, said an announcement from Para-military force late Friday evening.
Multiple interpretations were available about the significance of an event that had suddenly sprung up, the principle being its timing.
The fact that the campaign coincided with the return of the PPP co-chairman from almost 18 months of self-exile, was in itself important.
An eminent observer said senior Peoples Party functionaries saw designs in Nawaz Sharif’s statement welcoming Zardari’s return.
The premier’s statement at a media talk in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, had unnerved certain important Peoples Party leaders.
His (Nawaz) words “are not without meaning”, one of the top PPP leader told this scribe, and when raids came while Zardari was already on flight from Dubai to Karachi, he recalled his words, saying “wasn’t I right? Another PPP leader disclosed that Zardari had planned to return in September to remove impression that he was afraid of some high authority, and was advised by party men to defer the decision.
They even sent son Bilawal to Dubai to make his father understand the situation. Zardari, in order to help Bilawal gain confidence in decision-making, put off his plan.
But when he was advised again to turn his private airline flight back to Dubai because of the sensational developments at home, he refused to heed to that, and ignoring suggestions about the backlash of the Rangers raid on him, continued the journey back home, landing in Karachi right on schedule.
A Rangers communication identified as Kamran Muneer, a key functionary at Anwar Majeed office, looking after financial and all other sensitive matters in the three offices on I.I. Chundrigar Road, opposite Hotel Metropole on Club Road near Karachi Gymkhana, and in front of the Hockey Club of Pakistan, off Sharae Faisal, the road connecting city with Airport.
Rangers, in substantial strength, some wearing masks, and armed with latest weapons, conducted the raid shortly after Juma prayers.
A total of 17 Kalashnikovs, 4 pistols, 3 ball bombs and bullets were seized. Rangers said it had acted on authoritative lead, that the offices was studded with arms and ammunition, and was helping anti-socials financially which has now been declared serious anti-State activity.
According to Rangers five more people were also taken into custody. Kamran Muneer was questioned about some Sugar Mill matters, details of which were not disclosed for secrecy reasons.
It was clear from the beginning that Peoples Party, whose leader, former chief minister Qaim Ali Shah, and several others, had made lot of hue and cry about the arrest of yet another close Zardari friend, Dr Asim of Dr Ziauddin University Hospital, would be careful this time. Subsequent developments proved the assessment correct as neither Murad Ali Shah, nor Qamar Zaman Kaira, Khursheed Shah, or even Zardari himself referred to it even minutely, knowing that their post-haste comment may create complications for them and the party.
Perhaps the party had learnt its lessons that being patient would be far more beneficial than making it an issue at this time, when PPP needed to concentrate on its re-organisation.
Sources replied in affirmative when questioned whether the federal government or the interior ministry was on board in Rangers action. They recalled that even when the MQM headquarters, 90, was raided almost two years back the interior ministry had first expressed ignorance, but later claimed credit, condescending the decision of the Para-military force.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Ch Nisar held a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Friday and briefing him about raids of paramilitary force in Karachi, informed the Prime Minister that raids of Rangers in Karachi before the arrival of Asif Ali Zardari were not actions of political revenge.
Nisar said that Rangers raided offices of an insurance company following the strong evidence. The meeting also discussed overall security situation of the country.
Further, the federal government disassociated itself from the raids as Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the incumbent government has no role in arrests made in Karachi prior to the arrival of former president Asif Ali Zardari.
She said that all matters regarding raids and operations were earlier discussed in apex committee. She added that political parties should not support criminal elements.