Six people were killed and half a dozen vehicles were set on fire in Karachi, as tension gripped Pakhtun-dominated areas during the Awami National Party’s day of mourning on Thursday following the murder of party worker, Zainul Abideen, a day before.
The killings on Thursday brought the death toll to 20 people over 72 hours.
Abideen, the joint secretary of the party’s Patel Para ward, was laid to rest on Thursday morning at the Khamosh Colony graveyard but shortly after the burial, firing erupted in different parts of Lasbela and four vehicles were set ablaze in the area.
The city was divided into separate camps with the Pakhtun areas going on a complete strike. As some traders remained uncertain about going to work, others opened for just half a day. Transport throughout the day was close to nil.
According to Additional Inspector General Akhtar Hussain Gorchani, 16 arrests have been made by the police over the past three days. But they have not led to any substantial leads in the arrest of Ahmed Ali Magsi, the prime suspect for the murder of MQM’s Mansoor Mukhtar, or in the Abideen murder case.
Four suspects were arrested from Mominabad and one pistol and a Molotov cocktail was seized from their possession. Police said that the suspects were linked with the ANP but the party denied these reports. “It has been claimed that the suspects arrested over the last couple of days belong to the ANP, but this is not true,” said ANP spokesperson, Abdul Malik. “The fact is that we are the ones who are being targeted. Bus drivers and rickshaw drivers are under attack and they are majority Pakhtun.”
Caught in the battleground
Two bodies with torture marks were found wrist-bound in Nazimabad Block 2 and a 42-year-old man, Mehboob, was killed in the Old Sabzi Mandi when men opened fire and shot him four times in the chest.
Gulistan-e-Jauhar was especially tense, according to Malik as the neighbourhood is divided into camps of the MQM and ANP. A restaurant worker, Sadaqat Shah, was killed allegedly for opening his business.
Two men were shot dead in Banaras while two others were injured in separate firing incidents at Metroville and SITE.
The situation in Landhi was also alarming in the morning as one truck was torched at Dawood Chowrangi and another vehicle was burnt in Quaidabad.
Action by law enforcers
Gorchani briefed the media but mostly shared what they already knew. “There have been no achievements with regard to the situation that has deteriorated over the past few days.”
He admitted that the police have not managed to control the situation. “We are going to check every area and any SHO that does not fulfill his duty will be dealt with.”
However, he was unable to answer why the police seemed to have disappeared over the past few days with the widespread arson continuing unabated. He said that the violence erupted so quickly that no force in the world could muster up their men in such a short time.
The AIG refrained from naming any groups that could be responsible for the violence and instead blamed the problem on “anti-state elements” and a “third hand”. He said that they received general intelligence about these ‘elements’ and claimed that he had notified political parties and the home minister.
ANP’s Malik insisted that his party is being targeted while saying that ANP has lost two workers over the past few days. He added that their businesses have also been targeted, especially restaurants and dhabbas.
The Rangers in the last 48 hours conducted raids in Sohrab Goth, Gadap Town, Jahangir Road, Jamshed Town, Fakir Colony, Mecca Centre, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, which resulted in the detention of 51 suspects and seizure of 18 different kinds of weapons and ammunitions.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2012.