The murder of Sajid Qureshi, a member of the Sindh provincial assembly, from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, must be condemned in the strongest terms; and the party has seen three of its provincial legislators now gunned down in cold blood in recent years. Mr Qureshi was shot dead along with his son in the North Nazimabad area in Karachi on June 21 by unknown assailants, while driving home from Friday prayers. Immediately after the tragedy, the city was thrown into a state of fear with shutters down and tents draped over businesses in anticipation of the imminent bullet sprays. And indeed, Karachi saw at least 16 deaths by the morning of June 22. A city of around 20 million people, and the powerhouse of Pakistan’s economy, shut down within a matter of minutes simply because of fear and uncertainty. Fuel stations closed and public transport went off the road, leaving hundreds of thousands of commuters stranded. Vehicles were torched, forcing many people to stay at home indoors, further reducing economic and commercial activity. Exams were also postponed, disrupting students’ schedules and progress.
This frequent paralysis of Pakistan’s largest city, which is often shut down for many days in a calendar year, indicates the need for a viable, long-term solution. Every day Karachi is on strike, it costs Pakistan around ten billion rupees — which is certainly not healthy for the country’s economy. Furthermore, daily-wage workers lose out on their earnings, possibly forcing some of them into severe financial difficulty. There needs to be a realisation of this connection and an understanding that the shutdowns are detrimental for everyone.
Victims fall to targeted killings daily and one can read the total body count across the city from the previous night, every morning in the metropolitan sections of newspapers. Gun violence has almost become synonymous with Karachi’s name. Some consider the city a jungle with everyone left to fend for him or herself. The law and order situation must be improved and the political parties need to play their part. We quickly need an end in sight to save our citizens from further bloodshed and violence and to save our economy from further harm.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2013.