Karachi burning

The nature of Karachi’s politics dictates that political violence invariably takes an ethnic tinge.

Editorial August 19, 2011
Karachi burning

The latest bout of violence in Karachi would make even the most optimistic amongst us think that the city has been lost amid sea of blood. Murdered men are showing up in gunny bags and life in the city has ground to a complete halt. The numbers don’t lie. In the last three days over 50 people have been killed, while more than 300 people were murdered in the month of July. To blame the violence on gangs, as most politicians have done, would be far too simplistic. Certainly, criminal gangs have been involved but it is a well-established fact that in Karachi every powerful gang has an even more powerful political party providing it muscle, weaponry and protection. Were this simply a case of gang violence, the law-enforcement authorities would not have speedily melted away.

The nature of Karachi’s politics dictates that political violence invariably takes an ethnic tinge. The issue of how Karachi will be governed, whether under the commissionerate system or by a nazim, should be a simple administrative matter. The Pakthun population of Karachi, under the rubric of the ANP, is now aggrieved that the PPP has given in to the MQM’s demands and restored the local government system. The PPP has not helped matters by constantly vacillating, and thus managing to alienate both its allies. The solution to stemming the violence is both simple and yet impossible to achieve. The three main political parties in Karachi — the MQM, the ANP and the PPP — need to put their grievances aside for the sake of the city. This is easier said than done.

The sad truth is that violence is just another bargaining chip in Karachi’s power politics. Other solutions that have been suggested are likely to beget further violence. Bringing in the army or giving shoot-to-kill order to paramilitary forces, as we learned in the 1990s, will only deepen the anger and hate. The answer lies not with the men in khaki but with the civilians who were elected to keep the city safe.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2011.


T Khan | 12 years ago | Reply

There are 10 to 15 different pieces about Karachi everyday, but a very poignant thing about this one is the ambulance worker consoling the policeman. Our much abused and cursed security personnel deserve some sympathy and compassion as well. No law and order enforcement agency can work and function in a society like Pakistan. The very basic reason being the duplicity running through our veins...the fact that for the crime the rangers committed in Karachi a few months back they get death and life in prison within weeks and the 100s of killers that the government is claiming to have caught have not been put on death row till yet. One would have to be really naive to not know that no police or ranger can stop this bloodshed that has the backing and blessing of our political parties. Spare a thought for these miserable men in uniform, who are living through this gore and brutality in the already lost battle orchestrated by the beloved leaders of these killers. May Allah grant us sanity and help us understand the basic prayer that we Muslims repeat day in day out..."Eeyaaka Nabudoo, Va Eeyaaka Nastaeen" (We worship only You, and to only You we look for help)

Ghufran | 12 years ago | Reply

Allah won't save karaachi or pakistan as everytime our political system will allow these sort of people to rule us.......democracy is best revenge......cheers

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