25+ Dead in Karachi; ANP Boycotts Election; MQM Threatens to Leave Coalition; Both Blame PPP

Posted on October 17, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Politics
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Adil Najam

Once again, Karachi is gripped in a wave of ethnic violence and ‘target killings.’ In a city still reeling from the dastardly attacks on the shrine of Sufi saint Abdullah Shah Ghazi, the daily grind of senseless by targeted violence has once again peaked in the context of the bye-elections for PS-94, some 28 Karachites already lie dead and all indications suggest that the human as well as the political toll will end up being much higher.

The details of what has been happening are developing fast, constantly changing, essentially horrid, and well known to all. But here are the essentials: the ‘normal’ (what a horrid term that is in this context) level of targeted killings in Karachi has been rising the last many days, especially in the run-up to the PS-94 bye-elections; yesterday ANP announced it would boycott that election; the violence has escalated even further with that news; and now with the elections having been decided in MQM’s favor, the MQM is threatening to leave the coalition and Governor Sindh is now in Islamabad ready to meet President Zardari sometimes tonight on this. As workers and supporters – invariably, the poorest and already most vulnerable of Karachi’s citizens – from both parties fall in what continues to be ‘played’ as an ethnic clash as much as a political one, the only thing that ANP and MQM can seem to agree on is that the PPP is to blame.

Blame is indeed the name of the game right now. Just turn on any TV channel and you will find everyone blaming everyone else. With carefully rehearsed passion. With immaculately crafted conviction. Our “siyasi adakaars” (as one channel calls them) are pulling off a topi-drama par excellence. Every emotion, every argument, every theatric, every literal twist, every legal antic, every logical acrobat is on display by our seasoned political spokesmen and partisan anchors – everything except even an iota of honest compassion and humanity for the Pakistanis who are doing the dying.

Politics may well be a ‘dirty game’, but it should never be this dirty. And it should never be this bloody. In this, the season of judicial enquiries and suo motoo adventurisms, one would love to see an honest inquiry into what has happened, why, and by whom? There is no reason that this should be difficult to do? The killings happen in the plain sight of everyone, sometimes even on camera. Yet, those who know – and everyone knows – know that nothing will happen. Whether the government stays or falls, whether this coalition lasts or not, this too shall pass. Until next time when we will mourn this waste of human life all over again.

The story is not new – see, for example, here and here – but that knowledge does not reduce the pain and exasperation of those who live in and love Karachi. As the city bleeds, so does the heart of all of Pakistan. This time, it seems the toll will also show on national politics. Nearly two years ago, I had written:

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.

That ‘politics of mayhem’ has thrived in these two years. It has raised its ugly heads all too often. Indeed, it is now the norm. Once again, we sit afraid. Very afraid.

26 responses to “25+ Dead in Karachi; ANP Boycotts Election; MQM Threatens to Leave Coalition; Both Blame PPP”

  1. arty says:

    What has happened to Pakistani People? Is this the culture we had in past for killing each other? Can we go beyond being punjabi, balochi, pathan and muhajir etc,,? Is this the only problem in pakistan?
    When can we really become human first ?

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