Surjani violence: New strain of violence has law enforcers fearing the worst

Clashes over land-grabbing leave at least 10 dead in Surjani Town.

Faraz Khan August 02, 2011


In what appears to be yet another ethnic clash, property worth millions was torched and at least 10 people were killed on Monday night.

Authorities worry that the incident, believed to be a fight over land-grabbing between Seraiki-speaking people from southern Punjab and Pashto-speaking people, may be the beginnings of a new ethnic war.

Surjani’s population is a mix of Urdu-, Seraiki- and Pashto-speaking people. Usually clashes between ethnic groups across the city are thought to be between certain groups but for the first time, a new group has entered the fray.

“This is the first time that I have seen Seraiki- and Pashto-speaking people fighting,” said Additional IG Saud Mirza, who has been in a slew of meetings with officers across the city in an attempt to stem the violence. “It is definitely not a good sign.” He feared that this new violence could escalate and spread. More and more law enforcers have been deployed to Surjani in an attempt to nip the danger in the bud, he added.

A police official told The Express Tribune that the whole issue, like most political clashes in the city, is the land mafia’s doing. In the beginning, two land grabbers locked horns and the scuffle gradually went from two ethnicities fighting to a political clash.

He said that land grabbers and the supporters of political parties use each other to their own advantage. “If you compare the Seraiki and Pashtun, then you find that the Pashto-speaking men are more in number,” he said. “The Seraiki do not have the resources, weapons or manpower to take on the Pashtun.”

Both are, however, backed by political parties.

Pakistan Seraiki Qaumi Ittehad (PSQI) chairman Colonel (rtd) Jabbar Abbasi told The Express Tribune that the clash was not a random, isolated incident but was the result of a chain of many small fights that have been breaking out between the two groups for a couple of months now. He denied the involvement or support of any political party.

He claimed that it started when a Pashto-speaking person allegedly urinated on a newly constructed house belonging to the PSQI general secretary, Haji Nazeer Ahmed, in Surjani, leading to a fight between the two groups.

Next, a Seraiki-speaking person identified as Allah Dita, was killed and four others were wounded in firing while they were on their way to the Northern Bypass to hold a protest over the abduction of Seraiki children, also apparently by the rival group. “We are targeted each time,” he said. “How long are we meant to bear it? The police never catches the actual culprits.”

On Sunday, Tahir Khan, identified as Allah Ditta’s killer, by the Seraiki group, was murdered in Surjani. “The Seraikis and Pashtun have always lived together in harmony, but recently these small fights have escalated into a bigger problem,” Abbasi said. “When Tahir died, the Pashtun began attacking our houses and we did what we had to do to protect ourselves.” Pashtun leader Younus Buneri contradicted Abbasi, claiming that the Seraiki and Pashtun have nothing against each other and the Pashtun have always supported the Seraikis. He said that the same force that is behind the violence across the city is responsible for the unrest in Surjani. The people behind the violence take minor scuffles over personal matters and turn them into ethnic or political issues, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2011.


danish ali ahmad | 10 years ago | Reply

@ ali, your ill thought towards one party is not of your own, you were brainwashed for 60 years. this was the line taken for atleast 20 years, if it is 'TRUE that MQM do dirty politics' then i dont see a damn reason why you not condem PMLN or PPP to form alliance with MQM. i mean for god sake, yu should open your eyes now...or its gonna be very late. lets say MQM is the culprit of evil not only in karachi but in all Pakistan, so why not just take it out? like baitullah mehsud, or atleast dclared it/? guess what? you do not have enough prove. the facts points toward ANP, and you need them in PK. so just keep quit instead of lying and blaming MQM, and celeberate the gift of ANP. ANP=ANP (doesnot mean pathan in a blanket way) pathans are living in the city peacefully for a long time. ANP was NAP before and was banned by SC of Pakistan. they were unleashed after 2008 election by PPP.

nazarrabi | 10 years ago | Reply

there are killing pashtuns, this game play by ,i.s.i m.q.m panjabi people of pakistan,we pashtuns should wake up

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