The sense of loss within the ranks of the MQM caused by the violent murder in London of Dr Imran Farooq is understandable, considering that he was a founding member of the party and had served it well from its inception, through its transformations, and till his demise. At this point in time, it is unknown as to why Dr Farooq was murdered. It may be a result of political victimisation, sinister plots to get rid of rogue elements, or simply a mugging gone wrong. However, nothing can be said until the investigations are complete, and as is always the case, time will tell the story that everyone is anxiously waiting to uncover.
However, what is not understandable, and is perhaps downright crazy, is the utter senseless violence that has erupted in Karachi due to the said murder. On the night of his unfortunate murder, cars and buses were burnt in Karachi and shops were made a scene of arson and torching. The MQM announced a 10-day mourning period the day after and several vehicles and shops were burnt by enraged people. Also, all major shopping plazas, businesses and petrol stations were closed. And as is the story of their lives, the people are scared and there is an uncertainty in the air.
And this is not the first time that such a thing has happened. Our country's history is replete with instances of vigilantes and mob-like gangs gingerly going on killing sprees or 'looting expeditions' in the name of fallen heroes. When Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, industrial outlets and factories were burnt to the ground by mobs purporting to be 'grieving' at the loss of their leader. When news was ripe that Dr Qadir Magsi may have been killed in Sindh, protests and incidents of arson occured across the country. When Mr Raza Haider was mercilessly shot dead in Karachi, there were several days of senseless violence which took the lives of many innocent people and resulted in massive destruction of public and private property.
The manner and timing of deaths of important political figures is naturally condemnable and unforgivable. However, so are the consequent bouts of senseless violence which claim even more innocent lives and livelihoods thereafter. As a people, we have to realise that we are all entitled to grieving the loss of our beloved leaders, however not at the expense of other human beings and not as an opportunity to take innocent lives. The arson of business ventures, looting of pedestrians and bystanders, terrorising of shop owners and targeting of petrol stations by individuals who are purportedly doing the same in the name of the befallen, is no service to the dead, rather it is a disservice.
After all, how would looting an old man minding his own business on the street be sweet justice for the murder of an individual not even present in this country? How would the destruction of personal property and businesses honour the memory of an individual who gave his life for a principled stand and finally, how could the torching of cars and buses belonging to private citizens running from pillar to post to make an honest living for their families bring any relief to the aggrieved partymen or family of the deceased? In my opinion, the answers to these questions are quite obvious and at the end of the day, when buildings are reduced to rubble and ashes, vehicles to twisted metal, and the innocents stripped of their cash, all that will remain on our minds will be one question: in the death of this great political leader, for whom even I was grieving, what had I done to deserve this?
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2010.