Politically-inspired violence in Karachi has taken more than 30 lives in the last five days. The latest round of killings began when two activists of the ANP were killed in Gulistan-e-Jauhar on July 22. A day later, the Gulistan-e-Jauhar offices of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) were attacked by armed gunmen, who managed to kill two people, including one MQM activist. The MQM then promptly blamed the ANP for the attack. Despite being coalition partners, the ANP and MQM have a long history of mistrust and seem unwilling to resolve their differences. Given the ethnic composition of the parties, there is always the likelihood that their rivalry will lead to ethnic clashes in the city and that is exactly what has happened in this case.
The MQM’s campaign against the Talibanisation of Karachi, while justified to some extent, has all too often been used as a pretext to ensure its dominance in the city. The Taliban threat has been used by the MQM to whip up public sentiment against the Pakhtun population in a sinister way, as when the party tried to stop the influx of internally-displaced persons from Swat.
The ANP, for its part, has done little or nothing to tackle the militancy problem in the city, preferring instead to play the victim card. Karachi has become a fund-raising hub for the militants (with fund-raising being a euphemism for all sorts of illegal activities from bank robberies to kidnappings for ransom). Additionally, residents of areas like Sohrab Goth provide refuge and protection to the comparatively small percentage of militants in their midst in the name of ethnic solidarity. With the MQM practising a policy of collective punishment for all Pakhtuns and the ANP refusing to even acknowledge that militancy is even a problem, Karachi’s law and order situation is not going to improve any time soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2010.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ