A fresh outbreak of political violence in Lyari this week, followed by rioting in Orangi Town, Model Colony, Malir and other areas of Karachi, took another 19 lives. In just May and June it is estimated that there were over 70 incidents of targeted killings in the city. With all the political parties playing the victim and the police refusing to charge anyone or announce how many suspects have been arrested, there seems to be no end in sight to the mayhem. It seems the police force is completely powerless because it has failed to stop the killings. Police officials have busied themselves in irrelevant matters, such as a recent statement that 95 per cent of all targeted killings in Karachi involved the use of 9mm or 30mm guns. People are not interested in this — what they want to know is who are the people carrying out the killings, on whose orders, who pays them and why aren’t they being arrested?
In the short run, the federal government needs to move beyond cosmetic measures. President Asif Zardari’s arrival in Karachi on Thursday for a four-day visit will do little to settle grievances between the provincial coalition partners, the Pakistan People’s Party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Awami National Party, all of whom have been affected by the current outbreak of violence. Unfortunately, the targeted killings will not cease until the leaders of the political parties hash out an agreement and order their activists to refrain from violence. More effective policing is needed to bring the perpetrators of the violence to justice. The parties also need to refrain from blaming the land mafia for targeted killings as a way of absolving themselves. This accusation may be true but it obscures the fact that the parties themselves are either part of or aid and abet the various land mafias.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2010.
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