Taming the untamable
No one named who was behind the violence that erupted in Karachi last week yet Rehman Malik knew who he had to call to make sure the killings stopped. And they did.
It is going to take a lot more than a ‘code of conduct’ to make sure the target killings in Karachi stop. As vanguards of democracy, claiming to stand for the rights of their ‘own’ people, the political parties in the city have left little doubt that there are, directly or indirectly, responsible for most of the violence in the city.
No one named who was behind the violence that erupted in the city last week yet somehow Rehman Malik knew who he had to call to the meeting to make sure the killings stop. And they did.
The minute the coalition partners sat down and the prime minister gave a long lecture on peace, harmony and whatnot, the gunmen retreated. The streetlights were switched on, the vendors were allowed to do business and commuters were back on the buses.
The fact is that killings are aimed at achieving one political target or the other and it is naive of the authorities to actually expect us to believe that a ‘code of conduct’ will be enough to tame the parties.
Even before the death of the MQM MPA, murders on the basis of ethnicity were being conducted on a daily basis. The immediate aftermath of a high-profile murder may have strengthened the extent to which people were killed, but we cannot ignore the fact that we still live in a society where people are shot down only because they are part of the ‘wrong’ ethnic group.
This problem goes deeper than killing each other’s activists, name-calling and land grabbing. It is pure ethnocentrism: believing one’s culture and being is superior compared to the others. Hence, no matter how many points the parties agree on to bring peace in the city, it will never truly happen unless we get rid of our prejudices.
It is not only the leaders who have to get rid of this inherent bias against each other but they have to make sure the lowest rungs of the party, and our society for that matter, also learns to tolerate.
As a nation, we need psychiatric treatment. Some need therapy for the gruesome news we hear on an hourly basis, others need it to stop creating such news.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2010.