One of the most peaceful of Karachi’s many diverse communities has faced its first taste of sectarian violence. The aftermath, alongside death, has been shock and disbelief, as well as terror. The two bombs, both home-made devices laden with three to four kilogrammes of explosives and packed with pellets and ball bearings, went off in quick succession of each other via remote control in Karachi’s Hyderi market.
The first bomb, placed close to a tree, was positioned close to a Jamaat Khana as the Bohri community finished prayers. The second bomb went off minutes later in the centre of the street, packed with vendors and shops — the area towards which most worshippers go after prayers. It was as a result of this second explosion that most deaths occurred. Those killed included a woman and a 12-year-old girl. In all, there were eight deaths and some 21 injuries.
The blasts signal an expansion in sectarian violence and also the folly of ignoring it for too long. Keeping a low profile, staying away from Shia-Sunni strife and focusing chiefly on business in which many members of the tiny Bohri community are involved, has clearly not paid off for it. The community has been unwillingly drawn into the net of sectarian violence — its hopes that a devotion to peace could protect it, having faded entirely.
There are no answers for the minorities; sooner or later, they will be hit. A terrible mistake was made nearly two decades ago, when sectarian groups were not clamped down upon as they first began to take form. Today, we are paying the price. The Karachi bombings are the latest example of this and forewarn us that further turmoil may lie ahead if measures are not immediately initiated to tackle sectarian forces. This need must be treated as a war no less significant than the one being waged against militants in the north; both battles have to be won if we are to succeed in saving our country from the terrible demons that have taken hold of it.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2012.
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