Sectarian violence continues despite ‘arrests’

With 2 more people gunned down in ongoing sectarian killings across the city, it seems as if the government has no solution.


Fawad Ali Shah June 13, 2010

KARACHI: With two more people gunned down in ongoing sectarian killings across the city, it seems as if the government has no solution to curb the violence - the shootouts continue unabated and no arrests have been made public.

One Shia and one Sunni lost their lives on Saturday, which sparked more violence in the already turbulent city.

Rizwan Qadri, 25, was shot dead near Shah Jehan pan shop, sector 5-E of New Karachi. Police officials say that two unidentified men on motorcycles opened fire at him from a distance of around 15 metres. He was shot twice - in the head and the chest - killing him instantly.

Mobs took to the streets soon after the killing. The city witnessed aerial firing, burning tyres and vehicles and shops being damaged. A bus was also torched.

Naseer Hussain Jafri, 32, was gunned down also by unknown armed men on bikes in front of the Chiniot hospital in North Nazimabad. He was standing in the parking area of the hospital when the men opened fire. Six-year-old Sufyan was also injured in the attack.

Riots followed and members of the Shia sect protested against the murder in Nazimabad, Rizvia Society and Liaquatabad. Another bus was attacked and damaged.

His funeral prayers were offered at the Rizvia mosque and his body was buried in the Wadi-e-Hussain graveyard.

As the funeral procession proceeded from the mosque, protesters damaged shops, blocked roads and fired in the air.

The implications of such incidents are that shops are forced to close down and areas are cordoned off, instilling fear. Funerals take place and to avenge one murder, more people are killed.

That is when the police and Rangers decide to conduct raids and arrest suspects. On Friday, 53 suspects were arrested and on Saturday, CCPO Karachi Waseem Ahmed admitted to more arrests taking place. “Lists of the people affiliated with banned militant outfits and who are involved in criminal activities have been given to SPs of all the town police stations,” he said. But when asked about the details of the lists, who had been arrested and which party they belonged to, he said he could not give any other information.

After a few incidents of target killing the home ministry and police keep making hollow claims and promises of people being brought to justice and how the spate of violence will be curbed. Talking to the media at the Chief Minister House on Saturday, home minister Zulfikar Mirza, on a defensive note, said that suspects were arrested, but courts released them on bail.

The truth is that arrests are made for the sake of arrests - the actual culprits cannot be arrested and evidence against the apprehended cannot be produced.

Even though the intelligence agencies have submitted reports to the police time and again, pinpointing the suspects, but the government cannot arrest the actual culprits because of political compulsions.

The situation has now reached a point where the government’s writ has failed and even if they can intervene, they choose not to dirty their hands in the mess.

At least 27 members of Sunni Tehreek have been arrested, according to party officials. “We will organise a rally on June 15 from the Mazar-i-Quaid till Tower,” Sunni Tehreek’s central leader Shakeel Qadri said in a press conference on Saturday. “If the home ministry claims that those suspects released on bail would be arrested again, then why don’t they present hard evidence against them in the first place?”

Naseer Hussain was the fourth Shia to be killed during this week, according to the leaders of the Jaffria Alliance Pakistan.  According to reports, one member of the Sunni Tehreek and two activists of the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat have been gunned down this week - raising the death toll to seven.

Zulfikar Mirza said the government has planned to clear the city of the mess and initiate a crackdown very soon.

Published in the Express Tribune, June 13th, 2010.

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