Monday, July 26, 2010

Army should take over Karachi

July 22, 2010
Army should take over Karachi
By Saeed Qureshi
Pakistan is emerging as the most unsafe place for humans on planet earth. The target killing of citizens by feuding groups and rival brigands is going on unabated. The trigger-happy assassins since May this year alone have killed 244 persons. The target killers seem to be more daring and overpowering than the law and order outfits. There is a free-for-all mayhem that devours precious lives every day and every moment.
The Karachi metropolis has become the battleground for revenge and target assassinations. The provincial interior minister Zulfikar Mirza, some few months ago claimed, with lot of sound and fury, that he would lay down his life to restore peace in Karachi. He issued that ultimatum to the outlaws and killers in a public meeting. Since then, the situation instead of improving has further exacerbated. It looks as if a mini civil war was underway that might erupt into a full-fledged war sooner than later.
Karachi is the largest city of Pakistan and is inhabited by a diversity of ethnic, sectarian, cross cultural entities as well as aliens from Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. There is no legitimate or credible account of the foreigners living in legal or illegal capacities. Then there are old Sindhis and new Sindhis, the refugees and Pathans from NWFP (now Pakhtunkhawa). It is a hotchpotch of multiple ethnic communities and races.
The bad blood between MQM members and Pathans has been a lingering issue for the last several decades or precisely from the Ayub era when Pathans had an upper hand for their ability to use and flaunt deadly weapons in the public.
They have been counterpoised by MQM in later years after its founding by Altaf Hussain who by his macho style of over-lordship converted this one time timid group into a formidable force that could give matching response to the brazen browbeating by their rivals. The MQM has been working like a monolithic, tightly controlled, closely disciplined, and firmly knitted fraternity that gradually managed to establish its hold as equal partner in Karachi.
However, the conflict that generated in early years between Pathan community and MQM never dissipated although it went into hibernation and has been simmering ever since. Now we hear that the Balochis, Afghanis, and Taliban too are converging in Karachi. It makes Karachi like sitting on the brim of volcano that can explode with full force any time.
There are rangers, and there are government moles and intelligence network, police and sometimes troops but all these have failed to contain or break the chain of killing of innocent civilians. There is an atmosphere of dread and fear that pervades every lane and street, public place and every mind. Those who eke out their living by ordinary means in road side stalls, or kiosks or the peddlers or the laborers on construction projects are also targeted by the invisible assassins whose prime motive is to destabilize and destroy the social peace and smooth commuting of the people whether by walking or in vehicles.
It is a horrendous situation that merits urgent attention of both the provincial and federal authorities. A national conference for restoration and preservation of peace in Karachi should be convened. Karachi has the vital importance for being a port city and the leading industrial city in Pakistan. If the civilian law and order agencies have thus far failed to curb the mushrooming violence then let this city be handed over to the army that has the capability and muscle to curb escalating violence. If needed, the army can solicit the support of the political parties and civil society institutions for this most urgent task.
Besides Karachi in other cities of Pakistan, life is far from being normal or absolutely tranquil. The cities are being subjected to suicide bombing and acts of terrorism by all kind of subversive elements. The latest that took place at Data shrine killing scores of people sends a spine-chilling message from the perpetrators that they could strike anywhere and anytime.
The leaders, rulers, top bureaucrats, and high profile government functionaries are escorted and protected by an army of bodyguards and bullet and bombproof cars. However, a common person is so direly exposed to the lurking threat to his or her life. The people are turning paranoid or senseless about the gruesome tragedies and horrifying killing sprees going on around them.
Majority is poor, helpless, defenseless and without any protection from the savage and heartless criminals, gangsters, hired assassins, mafias who are devoid of any mercy or sanctity for human life. Then whose responsibility is it to provide security and safety to the life and property and guarantee right to live peacefully to the citizens? People are dying every day because the killers shoot or kill them with rare abandon or without any fear from those whose responsibility is to ensure law and order.

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