Azam Khalil Peace won by compromise is usually a short-lived achievement. Winfield Scott After 92 deaths and losses of over Rs 20 billion to the economy, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani decided to intervene and eventually succeeded in brokering a deal that resulted in a strategy based on a code of conduct between the PPP, MQM and ANP in Karachi. The code envisages to discourage the display of weapons and thus all parties involved agreed to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies so that peace and harmony can return to Pakistans economic capital, Karachi. However, for many observers the sharp polarisation that exists, in addition to religious extremism that has destroyed the peace of Karachi, the signing of the code of conduct may not be enough to restore peace in the port city. It would have been much better if Mr Gilani had taken a decision that could embrace all the related factors which have allowed the carnage in Karachi to continue for such a long time. Everyone is aware that the local police have become politicised. That it is only a dream to expect them to carry out any of the assigned duties to maintain law and order, and to protect the life and property of the citizens. Before this carnage began competent officials who had made a productive and positive contribution to restore peace in the city of Karachi were removed from their positions. In some cases, junior police officials were murdered with impunity and no one tried to pin the responsibility for these murders on anyone. The Prime Minister must understand that although it will be very difficult but it would be better if an exercise is undertaken that would free the city from at least illegal weapons that are available in abundance. Therefore, instead of pursuing adhoc measures the government must work out a strategy that will reduce violence and that can only be achieved if the weapons are taken out of the hands of the warring groups, who are now so daring that they do not even hesitate to challenge the rangers of the city. Instead of opting for political expediency, the Prime Minister would have been better served if he followed the policy of trying to resolve the issue through a political process and at the same time took measures that ensured the maintenance of law and order effectively throughout Karachi. The PM should further look around and see what is going on in some other parts of the country, especially in Balochistan where the menace of target killing is also spreading in an ominous manner. Nevertheless, the government should also devise a plan that would deal with the issue before it is too late. Then again, it seems that the Prime Minister is also oblivious to the prevalent law and order situation in certain areas of the province of Punjab where the menace of target killing does not exist; however, there are certain pockets which have become no-go areas after sunset and people do not feel safe coming out of their homes fearing dacoit gangs, who in some cases have the protection of political elements. So the Prime Minister side by side with trying to create conducive conditions for peace in Karachi must also look elsewhere to see if all is well as far as the law and order situation is concerned. The government must ensure the protection of the lives and property of its citizens. Although law and order is a provincial subject, yet the present state of affairs not only minimises the growth of economy, but also discourages investment that is essential to boost the stagnant economic activity of this country. The federal government must initiate steps that would ensure at least improvement in the present state of affairs and boost the morale of the people. Presently, the menace of extremism has spread at such an alarming rate that it has virtually demoralised the entire state. While the people are fast losing faith in the institutions that are being managed by the government, both at the federal and provincial level. One can only hope that the code of conduct which has been signed by the three major political parties, who have an effective presence in Karachi, will be implemented with sincerity. While the burden to maintain law and order would remain on the shoulders of the government, yet if PPP, ANP and MQM really want peace to return to Karachi they should, as a first step without discrimination, tell their cadres to return their weapons. One expects some political maturity from the leaders of the political parties because in case they continue to pursue short-term gains, the carnage will continue. The Prime Minister should take into confidence all the political parties on this issue, even those who are not present in the National Assembly, and try to hammer out a plan that is acceptable across the board and will bring peace to this country. At present, the country seems to be at war with itself which is being fully exploited not only by hostile forces, but also by the terrorists. Even the so-called friends of Pakistan keep on trying to manipulate the present situation to their advantage which must be understood by those who believe in democracy and the rule of law that sooner the country overcomes this menace the better it will be for its people. In order to overcome all these problems Pakistans ruling elite needs to fix priorities and however painful it may seem they must undertake to resolve these problems one by one. Otherwise, it will not be possible for this country to move forward and stand on its feet in the near future. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com