The Karachi agenda

Karachi will continue to confound and frustrate whichever government comes to power.

Kamal Siddiqi May 19, 2013
The writer is Editor of The Express Tribune

One is curious about the Sunday polling held at 43 stations of Karachi’s now renowned NA250 constituency. The Election Commission does not seem to be coming clean on this. For example, if polling was disturbed at certain polling stations why did the ECP allow only certain voters within those polling stations to vote again? After all, the polling at the stations at a whole was delayed not for only certain sections. Why were men allowed only in some polling stations? This does not make sense.

There is a lack of transparency. We also don’t know the whole story of NA250. Why was polling delayed in the first place? And what action has the ECP taken against errant polling staff. Given that those polling staff who refused to do their polling duties in sensitive areas of Balochistan were threatened with arrests, why have we not seen the same stick being used in Karachi? Who do we have to hold responsible for the misdeeds of that day?

Who will tell what really happened in Karachi on May 11. Where did voting material disappear and then re-appear. Also, can we say with solemnity that aside from NA250 where voting was delayed and denied, in all other constituencies things were clear and fair? This is a question that the Chief Election Commissioner seems to be avoiding. Given that he has done an outstanding job otherwise, the media has not followed up on this.

Karachi will continue to confound and frustrate whichever government comes to power. One is not sure how to proceed. Currently the city is being seen as a battleground for different forces, not all of them political. Law and order remains the city’s biggest challenge. The police seem to have turned mercenary and the Rangers only intervene when pushed and prodded.

By and large, we are told that control of the city remains with the MQM and the PPP. Possibly this is not as clear-cut as we think it is. In the meantime, we are waiting to see who takes over as the province’s chief minister – the province’s chief executive. Names in the run include Nisar Khuhro, Owais Muzaffar and even Faryal Talpur. Then we will wait and see who will be appointed the home minister – the portfolio that manages the city’s law and order. It is a thankless job where the stakes are very high.

Two former home ministers seem to have been banished to oblivion. Zulfiqar Mirza is out of the public eye even after his commendable stage performances. But one wonders whatever became of Manzoor Wassan, a respected politician known for his dreams, who also left the country for Dubai but came back and was shunted here and there. We hope the home ministry is taken more seriously.

Things are changing. It is noteworthy that the PTI has emerged as the alternative voice for Karachi, given the numbers it has polled in most of the seats in the city. That is possibly what is upsetting the MQM. But this is by no means a transition that some seem to suggest. The MQM remains the city’s most popular party.

Last week, once again the city saw the senseless killing of a public figure. PTI senior member Zahra Shahid Husain was shot by men who the police suspect were robbers but Imran Khan suggests otherwise. Any loss of life in such a manner should be condemned. The challenge for the PTI is to make sure that the killers, whoever they are, are brought to justice. Too many times have we seen public figures being killed, possibly for reasons that we are unaware of. At the same time we should be wary of jumping to conclusions.

In the run-up to the elections, PML-N leaders repeatedly talked about fixing the city’s law and order situation. Will that be possible if the provincial government is in the hands of the PPP? And if the federal government goes for an operation, will it be able to be even-handed? For one, will it be restricted to this side of the mountain or will it also be extended to the other side, where the TTP holds the reigns?

Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2013.


Saba | 8 years ago | Reply

Yeah it’s an ignominy that the agenda of Karachi according to the law enforcing agencies is basically in the hand of “Namaloom Afrad” for whom this place has become a puppet show. While in spite the people who rigged Election 2013 are in front of us, but we can’t get justice, so how can we think that the killing of Zahra Shahid and other party workers will be brought into justice soon? (as in these cases like rigging there are no valid proof or snap of culprits yet). Apart from this the question I want to ask from the elected government that is the security of precious lives and maintaining peace in Karachi was not the part of their manifesto, which they proclaimed before the election? If answer is NOT then they should keep in mind that if they won’t fulfill their promises with in the “time limit” then already frustrated people can’t lead them to govern any more as “Silence is betrayal to the Pakistani Nation now”. And in this aspect i think the government needs to remind the “Arab Revolution”.…

kulsoom | 8 years ago | Reply

Post election situation is not satisfactory at all. these protests , sit ins has become routine nowadays. the future of Karachi has now become a question mark. instead of increasing rivalries with each other the powerful parties in karachi should be united for the sake of city.

On the other hand the assassination of Zahra shahid hussain is a very regrettable event no doubt but in my opinion Imran khan's reaction on that mishap was not fair at all. Now his rivals have got a new reason to do planning and propaganda against him. He should be very careful in a situation like this in future.

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