Karachi Bleeds Again: Worse To Come?

Posted on November 30, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Disasters, Law & Justice, Society
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Adil Najam

Karachi used to be called “the city that never sleeps.” It may as well now be called “the city that forever bleeds.”

Karachi is bleeding again. More than a dozen dead. 80 injured. The Sindh Home Minister says “shoot to kill.” And everyone expects more blood to spill on the streets of Karachi. Fear rules the thoroughfares of Karachi.

Here are some snapshots of what has been happening:

The News: Confusion and chaos reigned supreme in many parts of the city due to widespread rumours of violence in the city on Saturday evening. Shops and markets in Saddar, Zainab Market, Zebunnisa Street and Burns Road were closed. Besides, petrol pumps on Sharea Faisal and Saddar areas were also shutdown. Vendors and pushcarts selling eatables were also not seen near major streets of the area. Police mobile vans were seen patrolling the affected areas and personnel taking positions to thwart any law and order situation.

Daily Times: The riots started from Banaras, early on Saturday, when a driver and conductor of a local route were thrashed by a mob in Mosa Colony. As a result the aggravated locals started firing and resorted to violence. The riots spread like bush fire, engulfing surrounding areas where groups of angry protesters pelted stones and fired at cars, setting fire to many vehicles. Two rickshaws and motorcycles were burned at Pak Colony, two buses and two motorcycles in Ittehad Town, two tankers at Nagan Chowrangi and one water tanker in Qasba Morr.

The News: Naseeb, aged 22, said that he was travelling in a rickshaw when he was intercepted by four armed men riding motorcycles near Abdullah College. When Naseeb told the armed men that he was going home to Qasba Colony, one of the armed men took out his pistol and fired at him. After injuring him, the armed men fled from the scene. Safdar Khan, a 30-year-old minibus driver, said that armed men intercepted his vehicle near Qasba Mor No-1 and ordered all the passengers to get down. Afterwards, when Safdar was still in the bus, the armed men opened fire at him and set the vehicle ablaze. Muneer, a 23-year-old labourer, was going home towards Peerabad when unidentified gunmen opened fire at him and fled. Two other persons Inam Dar, aged 25, and Rose Zameer, aged 26, also sustained bullet injuries in Peerabad area and were brought to the JPMC.

The Nation: At 8:30pm on Saturday night, traffic was barely reported on the City’s main arteries including MA Jinnah road, Karachi University Road, Shahrah-e-Pakistan, Sir Shah Suleman Road, Shershah Soori Road, Shah Faisal Road, and other important roads. The public transport including buses, minibuses, rickshaws and taxies were disappeared from all the main thoroughfares when the violence news spread in different parts of the City. The transporters took off their vehicles due to fear of burning, while private commuters were also avoiding to come on the streets due to the rumours and fear… People were sending mobile messages to their relatives and friends about the effected areas as well as inquiring about the situation of settled other areas.

The News: A rickshaw driver, Nasir Mehmood, told The News that, early in the morning, he was strictly advised not to visit places like Banaras or Sohrab Goth at any cost and told that, if he ventured there, he would be targeted due to his ethnicity by the residents of those areas. “At Korangi Road, another fellow rickshaw driver refused to go to Orangi although he was offered almost double the normal fare; he still felt insecure travelling there,” said Mehmood. A resident of Manzoor Colony, Inaam-ul-Haq, told The News that he was scheduled to visit the Cattle Market situated on the Super Highway on Saturday to buy a sacrificial animal. “Due to the circulation of terrifying news, I decided to defer my plans to go there,” he said.

Dawn: According to a private television channel, Pirabad police said two unknown gunmen opened fire in the Bukhari Colony area of Orangi Town at about 2:30 p.m., killing two men and fleeing swiftly. Later, three bodies were brought to Orangi Town’s Qatar Hospital while injured were being treated in different hospitals around the city. One person was also killed during firing in the De Silva town area. Airports nationwide were put on red alert and the airports’ special passes were cancelled for security purposes, television reports said. The incidents of violence struck various parts of the city, including Banaras, Orangi Town, Quaidabad, North Karachi and Nazimabad.

Everyone seems to know the script of the drama that is about to unfold, yet again, on the streets of Karachi. Except that the deaths will be real, not make-believe. Those who will be doing the killing have been arming up. Those who will be doing the instigation have already upped their rhetoric of hate, division and violence. Those who will be doing the dying, remain on knife’s edge, hoping that they will not be called upon to be sacrificed in the rituals of ethnic murder, so close to the Eid of sacrifice. The rest sit stunned in inaction as the politics of mayhem readies to raise its ugly head yet again. We see Pakistani kill Pakistani in the name of Pakistan. We sit afraid. Very afraid.

When will this murder stop? Why must violence be the only resort? How much blood can the streets of Karachi soak? When will we learn that violence is not teh solution to our problems. It is the problem!

This is not my first post on Karachi that I am compelled to end with the prayer: “Khuda Khair Karray!” Indeed, I have had to use that refrain too many times for violence all over the country. Once again, I can think of nothing else to say. Except, maybe, that the “Khair” will first have to come from our own hearts and from our own actions.

86 responses to “Karachi Bleeds Again: Worse To Come?”

  1. Alveena says:

    To Sunail: Pukhtoons in Karachi are not Afghani, they are Pakistanis from NWFP and living in Karachi from years. All these Pakhtoons play a vitol role in building Karachi. 95% of them are labours, drivers, factory workers and Tandoor wala.
    Poor Sindhis has been tortured and were forced to move from Karachi during Zia era when he divided the communities inKarachi created hatred and made MQM and used them to crush Sindhis just to eliminate the Bhutto factor from Karachi.

  2. Sunil Rajvanshi says:

    Hello Friends:

    I hadn’t heard about the riots in Karachi until I read about it here. As an overseas Indian, I’m not as familiar with the situation as many of you are, but over the years, I have often heard about recurring troubles between Muhajirs and Pashtuns in Karachi. I have a question in this regard: where are the indigenous Sindhis in all this? Granted, they are probably a minority in their own largest city, but wouldn’t they still be a sizeable minority? Where do they stand on these local/regional issues? Another question I have often wondered about: Pakistan absorbed between 2-4 million Afghan refugees durin the long-lasting instability in Afghanistan. I have always been impressed by how little social upheaval such a large migration seems to have caused in Pakistan. In India, where provincial identity is often an explosive topic, such a large migration of outsiders would have sparked a major social conflagration (as it has in Assam and other parts of Northeastern India over the issue of illegal immigration from Bangladesh). Is it because Pakistan already has a large population of Pashtuns, and so the newcomers simply merged into the pre-existing communities, or is provincial/regional identity simply not such a big deal in Pakistan? I would be much obliged if some of the commentators here could enlighten me on this subject.

  3. Karachi-walla says:

    I think the statements on MQM made by many people here are overdone.

    As a party it has many flaws and a bad history too. But lets please not make it an attack on communities, neitehr Mohajir nor Pathans.

    I am a Mohajir but stopped being an MQM supporter when they started inciting against otehr communities.

    So, my please is thatit is OK to speak against any party for what they do as a party in party positions, but do NOT make thsi about entire communities.

  4. zee says:

    Yasir: The police does not come under City Government and comes under the provincial government. City government can not do anything when it comes to law and order situation.

  5. shariq says:

    All the karachian are first Muslims ,then Pakistani.and as a Muslim nation we should try to live in karachi as a peaceful nation not an individual nation like mahajir and pakhton or any enthic nation.We (Muslims) are a nation in the modern sense of word we should try to resolved this uncertainity in a dialogue manner , not to kill the innocent and working peoples.

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