The demand for a separate province for Mohajirs resurfaced in the form of a two-page pamphlet distributed and held up by mourners at the funeral for Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) supporters on Saturday.
Before the funeral in Liaquatabad, men were seen distributing and holding the leaflets for a ‘Mohajir Soba Tehreek’. They shouted slogans in favour of a Mohajir province. The leaflet was titled an open letter to the Mohajir community, stating that people had to unite and fight for their rights and to protect themselves. “We made Pakistan, We will make a Mohajir province too,” cried the men.
It has been a bloody week with an estimated 33 people shot dead in tit-for-tat killings across Karachi. The city has operated in fits and starts as days of mourning were called by the parties as their activists were slain. On Saturday it was completely shut although isolated events planned months ahead, such as a convocation and seminar on urban planning, went on.
The MQM’s Nasir Jamal said that his party has lost six supporters while the ANP has claimed eight.
The funerals were held on Saturday and more are scheduled for today, Sunday.
Despite this, police chief Akhtar Hussain Gorchani described the city as calm. “As long as the mourning is peaceful, it’s fine,” he said. “Otherwise we will have to take action. Since yesterday, six to seven people were killed over politico-ethnic bias. However, a man also killed his sister-in-law. The media has been running tickers which say 13 or 14 people have died.”
In its report, the police told the chief justice that only half of the killings were targeted.
Four constables on duty at the time of murders at Banaras Bridge have been suspended.
The Rangers took 37 suspects into custody. The ANP said over 160 party activists were arrested. Rangers raided ANP’s Sindh headquarters at 2 am on Saturday but the party said it was willing to cooperate.
The government has revived a 10-point code of conduct that political parties signed in August 2010. Top officials met and granted the police and Rangers absolute control to act. Committees will be set up with political representatives to monitor violent areas and to ensure that no party flags, banners or graffiti are put up. However, the real problem is drive-by shootings for which no immediate solution or plan of action was made public.
The president flew in to the city late Friday night.
A source in the PPP said that the MQM had put forth a list of demands which the government could easily fulfil. He added the MQM was pressing them to act against rival Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi chief Afaq Ahmed.
“This is a democratic government,” said a senior PPP leader who wanted to remain anonymous. “We cannot victimise any political party or leader by banning them and their activities.” As it is, the government had banned the Peoples Amn Committee (PAC) to please the MQM, he added.
Sources claim that in MQM-dominated areas such as Kharadar, Mithadar and Soldier Bazaar, the PAC and other groups has started taking over. “The current situation is worrying the leaders,” he said. “The federal interior minister has assured the MQM that the government will deal with this but so far PPP leaders have not agreed to act against Habib Jan and Uzair Baloch [of PAC].”
According to the source, the MQM had set a deadline for the local body elections, which has been delayed because of disagreements in the coalition. “The MQM wants a quick decision on [it],” he said. “The PPP wants to keep the issue going till the general elections.”
MQM leaders refuted this and said that they had joined the coalition government by pursuing a policy of reconciliation. “We have never demanded ministries or other incentives,” said Waseem Ahmed.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2012.
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