Bloody streets of Karachi

In just 24 hours, over a dozen people have lost their lives in target killings in the metropolis of Karachi. Since the beginning of this year, around 686 people have been killed in the city in ethnic and sectarian clashes while at least 136 of those who died were target killed. Karachi bleeds, but instead of the authorities taking charge of the situation all we are witnessing is a war of words. The Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), both coalition partners of the PPP government in Sindh, are at daggers drawn amidst the tense situation in Karachi. Both parties have accused each other for the increase in violence. MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar accused the ANP of harbouring the Taliban and said that “with the help of land mafia, bhatta mafia and weapons mafia”, the ANP is trying to “destabilise the metropolis”. The ANP leadership lashed back at the MQM for alleging an alliance between them and the terrorists. ANP Sindh President Shahi Syed said that the ANP had lost hundreds of its workers at the hands of the Taliban, thus any such suggestion was outrageous. Syed also said that “after disturbing peace in the city, [the MQM] tries to put the blame on someone else every time” and warned that “if they do not stop telling lies, we will start telling the truth”.

The people of Karachi are pleading for an end to this bloody madness but our esteemed politicians are busy in political point scoring. The situation has been going downhill for the past many months but nothing concrete has been done to bring the culprits to book. Every time the wave of violence is reignited, we see the Federal Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, running to Karachi to settle the dispute. But it seems that Mr Malik’s frequent flying has not helped the situation simmer down. Things cool down for a little while but the situation rears its ugly head once again soon after. The question on everyone’s mind is, where is the government? Is there no writ of the state in Karachi? It looks as if the situation is not in the government’s control any more. When two coalition partners of a provincial government are accusing each other of target killings, the neutral party – in this case the PPP – should take charge of the situation and not just call joint press conferences. Sindh Home Minister Zulfikar Mirza should get his act together and focus on countering the terror wave in the city. The government may have decided to crack down on those who are behind the target killings, but we have seen how such ‘decisions’ have panned out in recent months. If anything, the number of deaths have increased.

Syed Qaim Ali Shah is a weak chief minister and has not been able to play a mediatory role between the ANP and the MQM. The weakness of the Sindh government has led to a war for turf, land grabbing, and other mafia activities. In order to establish the writ of the state, the Sindh government must ensure that the law enforcement agencies have complete power to haul up those who are instigating these attacks without fear of any repercussions. A mini-civil war is going on in Karachi right now. The law enforcement agencies must not be politically partisan and should be empowered to go after anybody who breaks the law. We cannot have a continuing mafia war in Karachi.

(my editorial in Daily Times)


Qurat-ul-ain said…
No one should blame PPP for sectarian violence in Karachi. PPP is in coalition with MQM and other parties. PPP played always vital role in controlling the situation of Karachi but it is also necessary that MQM and ANP equally play their role. One should not forget that PPP despite having major vote bank in various areas of Karachi conducted operation. Here the role of MQM itself is dubious because of its maligned past. I strongly believe that basic reason of violence is clash of MQM with other parties like ANP and its factions. MQM is bigger party and must realize its responsibilities shunning the politics of violence. Despite this walk outs of MQM and threats to disband coalition also show immature mindset of MQM. MQM must bridge its differences with ANP and other factions in order to restore peace in Karachi.

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