Not for the first time, the violence continued in defiance of high-profile visits and high-level meetings on law and order.
And not for the first time this year, the death toll from under a week of violence crossed 100.
Thirteen people were killed in Karachi on Monday, including four employees of the city’s water board, taking the six-day toll to 105.
This latest spate of violence was set off on Wednesday last week, when the bodies of five Baloch men were found in different parts of the city. On that first day (Wednesday), a former member of the National Assembly from the Pakistan Peoples Party, Waja Karim Dad, was among 13 killed. Another 31 were killed the following day, 27 on Friday, 10 on Saturday, 11 on Sunday and 13 on Monday.
Over the six days of bloodshed, the police have thus far arrested a grand total of six people – all of them in connection with the attack on a police bus in Chakra Goth on Friday. Police officials claim another ten people have been arrested on charges of extortion over the past week.
Sources within the police, however, claim that many more people had in fact been arrested but were then released under political pressure after settlements were agreed upon amongst parties.
The violence on Monday, meanwhile, seemed to contain several elements of what the police refer to as ‘opportunistic’ killings: where people take advantage of the violence in the city to conduct killings that have nothing to do with the broader political and ethnic tension.
The most brazen attack was on a bill collection office of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) near the Karachi Zoo, where four employees were killed in a drive-by shooting.
The attacks on Monday were made extraordinary by the fact that the police and Rangers had established pickets and checkpoints throughout Karachi in order to prevent the outbreak of sectarian violence on the occasion of Youm-e-Ali, the anniversary of the martyrdom of the fourth caliph, Hazrat Ali (RA), which is marked by many Shias holding processions in the streets.
“There were police as well as Rangers pickets there, but the criminals, like always, were better prepared,” admitted Shaukat Ali Shah, a deputy inspector general (DIG) of the Karachi police.
KWSB is the second government department to be attacked in the current wave of violence. Earlier in the week, some people attacked a fire station in the Lyari neighbourhood of Karachi. Many of the employees in these government organisations are political appointees.
Separately, a bullet-riddled body of the 18-year-old nephew of a former Muttahida Qaumi Movement member of the Sindh Assembly was found in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal area of the city. Police identified the young man as Mehtab, whose uncle, Muhammad Hussain, was a member of the MQM. The boy himself is reported to have been a member of the All Pakistan Muttahida Students Organisation (APMSO).
Eight more people were killed in other parts of the city, including three in Jamshed Quarters. The others were killed in Sharafi
Goth, Korangi, Soldier Bazaar and Jackson.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2011.