Karachi horror and its implications

Apparently at a cabinet meeting when Interior Minister Rehman Malik shared evidence of what was going on in Karachi, which included pictures of torture cells and the statements of the victims, those present at the meeting were horrified. According to one participant, “One could not believe his eyes that this is happening in the city of lights…it appeared as if we were watching the trailer of a horror movie.” If our cabinet members were horrified just by looking at the audio-visuals of the horror that is going on in Karachi, it does not take much imagination to judge what the people of Karachi – who are living the horror every single day – must be going through. If this is not going to wake up our ruling elite, then nothing will. It seems that something has finally woken them up to an extent. Law enforcement agencies have conducted operations in Al-Rahim Apartment, Pehalwan Goth, Yousuf Plaza, FB Area, Baldia Town, Saeedabad, Rangar Mohalla, Banaras, Sohrab Goth and New Karachi. The operation, which started from Lyari, is now more and more even-handed; hitting at areas not just limited to the Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP’s) domain. This is a step in the right direction. The operation has to be across the board to be a success and to rid Karachi of gangsters, criminals and murderers. There is some hope that the ruling PPP is going to act wisely now instead of picking and choosing in pursuit of its policy of reconciliation.

On another note, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry endorsed what we have been saying in this space for quite some time now. He warned the politicians that in the past, a bad law and order situation had led to military takeovers. The Chief Justice said, “Allegations and counter-allegations are levelled by political parties against each other. Criminal gangs have been formed in the parties and people have been made hostage.” The chief justice is not off the mark when he warned the politicians of what could happen of they do not address the issues at hand and keep bickering amongst each other. A minister told a reporter that there is no chance of the PPP and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) “coming together in the near future because the two parties appear to have developed serious differences over how Karachi should be run”.

The PPP’s policy of reconciliation has cost this country, especially Karachi, dearly, notwithstanding the rationale that it was necessary for the smooth running of democracy. The dangers of pursuing this policy in Karachi are greater than anywhere else. If Karachi comes to a standstill, our economy suffers. Karachi is the economic hub of the country. Already due to increased terrorism, foreign investors do not want to touch Pakistan. The energy crisis has led to a virtual end of industry in the country (note not only capital flight but whole industries relocating out of Pakistan). Now we depend more and more on Karachi to steer this country out of the economic mess. With the law and order situation deteriorating in Karachi, that ray of hope is dimming with every passing day. The MQM seems to be on a verbal offensive, as was seen during MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s press conference yesterday. What remains to be seen is whether the MQM and other political parties will think of the people of Pakistan or just their own petty disputes. Pakistan’s future hangs in the balance. Time for all political forces to take stock.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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