Karachi’s unending woes

Karachi has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. Ethnic violence led to a spate of target killings in recent months. In the past two days, more than a dozen people have been killed in target killings. Whether this present series of killings are because of the murder of Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM’s) leader Dr Imran Farooq in London, or for some other reason, it cannot be denied that tensions in Karachi were visibly palpable after Dr Farooq’s death.

Awami National Party’s (ANP’s) Ghulam Ahmad Bilour expressed his concern over the tense situation and asked why buses of the Pakhtuns were being burnt after the murder of an MQM leader. The MQM has denied any role in the recent target killings. MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar laid the blame on the government, especially the Sindh Home Ministry. “If they are not responsible, then they should tell us as to why they failed to curb the acts of terror in the city,” said Dr Sattar. He added that the deterioration of the situation in the city was a “planned conspiracy”. Dr Sattar’s statement is unwise given the volatile situation in the city. The MQM may not be responsible for the deaths but to put the blame on the government of which it is itself a part is strange. The provincial home ministry is run by the PPP with Dr Zulfiqar Mirza heading it, but instead of lending support for tackling the difficult situation, the MQM seems bent upon pouring oil on the fire.

On top of this, the trigger-happy attitude of the police and Rangers has exacerbated an already tense situation. A man was allegedly killed when the Rangers opened fire on a procession returning after attending the funeral of a target-killing victim. The Rangers and police have claimed that they fired in self-defence when some youngsters fired at a Rangers picket. Whether their claims are true or not can only be ascertained if a proper inquiry is conducted into the incident. Nevertheless, the security forces must exercise restraint under the circumstances and should not stoke the fire. There are many ways to control emotional crowds without resorting to the use of ultimate force. The security forces must not add to the woes of an already beleaguered people or the whole city may explode in our faces like a keg of gunpowder.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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