Violence in Karachi never seems to cease. The entire city resembles a war zone, where a blast, a killing, a burst of gunfire or other act of violence could occur at virtually any time and at any place. The latest target has been the MQM rally held in the city on January 1, and addressed by Tahirul Qadri. The bomb which went off was timed to coincide with the end of the rally and was triggered by remote control, as people left for home on buses and other transport, crowding around the area where they were parked. The explosives were hidden in a motorcycle near the buses. All four of those killed are stated to be MQM workers; of the 47 persons injured — two of them women — the party says most were their activists. The condition of several is stated to be critical.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban has taken responsibility for the attacks, presumably choosing to target the MQM because of its frequent verbal attacks on extremist forces. They have also warned that more such attacks will follow. The MQM also appears in no doubt that the group was behind the bombing. It has immediately announced a day of mourning in the city.
Protests, however, will not stop the bombs, or prevent other killings. It is already clear to us that the Taliban are capable of striking where and when they please. In recent weeks, the frequency of their ferocious attacks — not only in Karachi but also in other parts of the country — seems to be increasing. There has been no success in stopping them. This is ominous given that elections now are only months away. Campaigning will be accelerating over the weeks. It is hard to see how it is to go on given the current situation. The Taliban seem bent on driving people away from rallies and creating an environment which makes it hard for people to be in contact with leaders. This is not conducive to electioneering or indeed to democracy in the wider sense. The question is, what can be done to prevent more bomb blasts and more havoc from resulting, with fear spreading across the political landscape like a dark cloud with no signs of a silver lining?
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2013.