Anger boils over as body count rises in Pakhtun deaths

Shahzad Jillani May 19, 2010

KARACHI: While shouts against Facebook reverberated in some parts of the city, other areas were engulfed in firing and mayhem that has become a defining characteristic of Karachi.

Around 13 people were killed in different incidents of target killings across the city on Wednesday while several others were injured. The target killings started late Wednesday night when a man was gunned down in Shah Faisal Colony. The mobile shop owner, Muhammad Nabi, was said to be a member of the Awami National Party.

The same night, another man was killed in the same area, who in turn was claimed to be a Muttahida Qaumi Movement worker. On Wednesday protestors demonstarted outside the Governor House with Nabi’s body and then later clashed with the MQM at Saddar, where the day’s spate of target killings started. Among other parties, the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) has also condemned the target killings in Karachi. The government needs to reprioritise, said the party’s general secretary Saleem Zia.

He told The Express Tribune that a ‘particular group’ was responsible for all the violence in the city but he refused to offer any insight on who this group is. The law and order situation is steadily deteriorating while the government hides behind the curtain of ‘reconciliation’, he said. “Why has there been no action, no arrests?” he asked. “What was the result of all those inquiry meetings and tribunals made to investigate the Ashura blasts, the Boulton market arson, the Jinnah hospital blasts?” The nation might as well forget about Thursday’s target killings as well since nothing will be done about it, Zia added.

Target killings are not new phenomena, he said, adding that the country had been witnessing it for the last two decades. In Musharraf’s reign, all parties including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) raised their voices against these killings and called them ‘conspiracies’. “But now that the government is in their hands, they have nowhere to shift the responsibility,” he said. These reconciliations are simply compromises made in order to gain more power, Zia said. Anyone living in Karachi, be they Punjabis, Pathans, Sindhi or Seraiki, are equal citizens, he said. It is the government’s job to provide a safe and secure environment for them all.

Mamnoon Hussain, another member of the PML-N and former governor of Sindh, said that the PPP-led government had admitted its helplessness in front of these ‘terrorists’. “Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza has confessed in front of the media that he had no authority to detain miscreants [involved in target killings] because of certain bindings that come with the reconciliation policy,” Hussain told The Express Tribune. The government has failed to bring peace in Karachi and the province, said the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), Pir Sadaruddin Shah Rashdi.

“There has been an increased spate of target killings in Karachi and the situation has now become quite alarming,” he said, adding that the crime rate in interior Sindh was also sky high with more and more kidnapping and murder cases being reported. Rashdi also complained that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had ostracised all other political parties in discussions on law and order in Sindh.

The PPP and MQM only talk of the issue at their core committee meetings and in all other negotiations and sessions, security topics are not addressed. This is why the PML-F’s suggestions on overcoming the horrific target killings and other crimes cannot be given, Rashdi added. “So the situation continues to become worse and there is no stopping it,” he said. All ethnicities should be able to reside in the province, said Rashdi, adding that they all had equal rights.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 20th, 2010.

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