Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Politics Of Violence In Karachi.

Karachi burns out of control.

ANP red flags show of force a common scene in Karachi .
We are helpless citizens. See any ethnicity here?
Death is mourned with flag or without affiliation..
living in fear , false sense of security.
Karachi resembles Belfast at its most violent peak days right now. Not all of it but almost. It resembles the drug infested Columbia right now, not all of it but well, almost  all of it. It resembles Washington in crime rates and gangs, well all of it. Then we "think " we are in a posh safe area, well are we ? Definitely "No". Remember the post Benazir Bhutto death violence? All of Karachi was burnt!.

What use modern bridges?
Where and how do we go?
Brutalization of society where administration fails.
This could be you or me.
 In Clifton older people were sleeping in their apartments above Servis shoes shop. They were evacuated by helpless residents when the gangsters set their building on fire. We came to know of the intensity of the arson attack after we saw the burnt metal, distorted beyond repair of the ceiling fans on the higher floors. There was no ethnicity involved. They came in hordes all over Karachi, especially in Gulistan -e -Jauhar area, burning petrol pumps, banks, shops, looting and pillaging with big stick sin their hands , citizens fleeing and hiding in their residences or wherever and whosoever's house they could. This happened and all was conveniently forgotten. The ethnic politics is being described as between Pathans and Muhajirs (MQM) right now but who were these at that time ? On 27th December?
Then one day as I and my daughter were coming in our not so new car which my husband was driving , again in Gulistane Jauher near Baluch more , there was a burning tyres road block which had suddenly appeared. The minbus driver started gesturing my husband to turn back immediately. By the time we made a turn a man with  a bamboo stick in his hand was ferociously running after our car almost reaching the back wind screen. Our car had even stopped in the middle of the return circle once but God wanted to save us. What would have happened to us if our car would have been reached by him. I shudder in dread. This was a Baluch belonging and favoring the ever vocal Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, who was hospitalized during a brief arrest in Karachi and this was supposed to be a protest. The ugliness and absurdity of violence shows how randomly it affects all who live here. He had no way of knowing who we were ethnically, religiously. We could have been writers writing in favor of Mumtaz Ali Bhutto.We could have been his supporters. But this shows how blind and ugly violence can be.
Here we are in this large city where all ethnic groups ought to live in harmony and here we are fighting over land . The mafias that are entrenched and have taken an ethno-social color are playing havoc with the lives o f the common citizen. What kind of city is this where exams are postponed every-time something happens. What kind of city is this where hospitals and clinics are burnt. What kind of city is this where residents are made siege over in their residences and streets with guns based on their presumed ethnicity as is happening in North Nazimabad and Orangi areas right now. What kind of political leadership is this where the Pakhtuns are lumped all into ANP and the Urdu speaking all into the MQM.
This is a repeated violence
 And what kind of administration is this (local and provincial ) which has completely failed to solve some of the problems and is snuggly clutching to its government. The politics of the Pakistan Peoples Party in Sindh seems to be that let the ANP and MQM fight amongst each other and destroy each other. This party has not increased it's vote bank in any way and because Benazir was away so long  and was later killed, there is no chance of this increase in the very near future. So, the quiet consensus on let the 'Pathan' 'ANP' identity fight it out with the 'Muhajirs' 'MQM' identity. This is the most stupid strategy which the 'highly learned and wise' leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party , Sindh is keeping all its hopes on. The interior minister of Sindh is quiet on all issues. He is a close friend of the president so no one is questioning him. No one will speak that the "Emperor has no clothes on".
Trips from Mr. Rahman Malik , the suave federal interior minister trying to plug all leaks will never be a substitute for true leadership and peace consensus in Karachi. I see a very ugly picture emerging. We have not been able to come to a happy 'Karachi camaraderie' even though we are earning well here. We have not learnt to live in peace and harmony even though we are living well here. By violence and turf wars we will never gain any victory. Successful cities like Los Angeles, have developed healthy citizen lobbies and groups where they only differ and franchise by vote. We have to live like humans. ANP and for that all Pathans of Karachi ought to develop a mechanism to enfranchise their people based on free vote and not ethnicity and the MQM and all Muhajir people have to see that they do not appear to sway uncontested power over the city. Meanwhile the utterly, totally quiet and invisible interior minister ought to make a more interactive, proactive, open dialogue with all the ethnic, political and citizen groups and not some trite, clandestine meetings with " core committees" which have so far failed to contain this random violence
Consensus can only be built by open dialogue , not plug in meetings.
. The administration has to take a non-biased approach towards Karachi, as this is the lifeline of Pakistan. Especially now as Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa is totally inundated by floods and major areas in Punjab and now God forbid areas in Sindh. The interior ministry has to change its attitude and behavior and if need be its face.

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