MAYHEM IN KARACHI
PROXY WAR AMONG VARIOUS GROUPS IS BEING FOUGHT IN THE CITY.
SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Apr 30 - May 6, 2012
While trying to explore reasons behind killings in Karachi, analysts often term it gang war. These gangs comprise of militants, extremist religious groups, and booty collectors.
MQM has classified the invaders as three mafias: 1) land grabbers, 2) booty collectors and 3) merchants of death (arm suppliers). Some analysts say it is a war among those who claim 'Karachi Hamara Hai', not because of any love for the city but the right to collect the booty.
However, some cynics say that the city is being dragged towards anarchy by those who are following the greater agenda of weakening Pakistan and its ultimate division into feeble administrative units.
One may say that nearly 70 per cent of the population of Karachi comprises of those who have come here only to earn. Whatever they earn, bulk of it is sent to their hometowns. Therefore, they are not very keen about law and order situation of the city. They can always go back to their native villages if situation turns very nasty. However, those who have no other city or village to return bear the brunt.
Economic activities in the city are on the decline as industrialists and traders are winding up their businesses because they just cannot keep on paying the money to nearly two dozen booty collectors.
The response of rulers is often ludicrous. Interior minister suspects foreign hand in every incident from killing of political activists, religious scholars, and doctors to bomb blasts. Reportedly, over three dozen different agencies are operating in the city but have not been successful in rounding up the culprits. Most of the accused are acquitted due to 'lack of evidence'. Some cynics say that the perpetrators have developed their sympathizers within law enforcing agencies.
Many of MQM's leaders have been killed, though it is an important part of the coalition government and logically it should have exerted its ruling power to save its skin.
The entire city has become hostage of booty collectors, who consider Karachi the goldmine. All sorts of looters are trying to maximize their income. All the main roads, streets and roads around commercial building have been encroached. This is not specific to any particular area but throughout the city.
The prominent Bhatta collectors are the agents of police, municipal authorities, cantonment boards, political parties. The highest money yielding areas are M. A. Jinnah Road, new M. A. Jinnah Road, Tariq Road, Khalid bin Waleed Road, and Shahrah-e-Pakistan.
Extortionists are the most ruthless and lately have been involved in kidnapping of people for ransom. Earlier they have been involved in car lifting, mobile snatching, looting of people drawing money from ATMs or robberies of bank branches. It seems police has some understanding with these criminals and pay intentionally heedless to lawlessness. Some critics say that police actually patronize these criminals by not cracking down on them.
Mustafa Kamal, former Nazim of Karachi, used to reiterate that unless locals are recruited in police, law and order can not be restored.
It may not be wrong to say that with regular intervals organized gangs from different parts of Pakistan 'invade' Karachi and once their mission is accomplished, they go back. Rounding up these perpetrators is difficult because they have safe sanctuaries within ethnic enclaves-communities retaining distinguished ethnicities.
It may not be wrong to say that even police and rangers are hesitant in entering these areas. This does not mean that law-enforcing agencies do not provide protection to these groups in exchange for their share in the booty.
Some analysts say that linguistic and sectarian groups are the perfect examples of 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do'. In fact, when the perpetrators wear these two caps, they get sympathies of the residents of these areas. As they become popular they wear various masks of social reformers, nationalist leaders, political activists and even religious leaders but their sole objective remains 'collecting as much wealth as possible during the shortest possible time'.
This could be best understood by examining a banned outfit namely Jundullah. In Pakistan, it is known as the voice of oppressed Balochs. In Iran, it is known as the voice of oppressed Sunnis. However, it is often alleged that its activities are funded by those who are working on fragmenting Pakistan and Iran.
It is on record that in a meeting of US Senate committee, a resolution was passed that said Pakistan should give the right of self-determination to Balochs for the creation of an independent Balochistan. This will comprise of one portion each sliced from Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan.
Pakistanis have now begun to understand that killing in Karachi is part of greater agenda of weakening Pakistan and creating a justification for establishing feeble administrative units.
Three of the incidents taking place during the last week i.e. a reported attempt to hijack an airplane, killing of a Baloch leader in Lyari and sectarian clashes in Khairpur leading to imposition of curfew in the city are interconnected. Sectarian killing that was common in Balochistan has pervaded through Gilgit-Baltistan province and in Sindh.
Similar incidents have also occurred in Iraq earlier to create justification for splitting the country into three states one for Sunnis, second for Shias and third for Kurds. Ten-year occupation of Iraq by Nato forces has not helped in achieving the dream thus far. Since Iran is trying to improve its relation with Iraq and Pakistan, the process has to be sabotaged.
Killing of political and religious leaders is aimed at stirring anarchy in Pakistan. These ventures are funded by external groups, which are fighting proxy wars in Pakistan. Unless supply of money and arsenal to these groups is stopped, lasting peace in Karachi and rest of Pakistan cannot be established. Stopping entry of undesirable elements in the city is difficult but certainly not impossible.
It looks strange that leaders and activists of the ruling parties of MQM, PPP, and ANP are being killed in broad daylight but they look as if helpless.