Monday, April 30, 2012

Women & Children of Lyari..Children Of A Lesser God.

Dr Meher Zaidi. (An interactive article).
Residents flee Lyari (DAWN).

Armored personnel carriers hand grenaded, heavy assault weapons used mercilessly, three apparently non-criminal youth lying dead on roads, a school teacher injured by bullets inside her home later dying in hospital, children crying and hungry with sounds of heavy gunfire reverberation in background, sounds familiar? Or does it look like a far away place with just news flashing on your television screens? This is Lyari ! The most conflict ridden part, the most dangerous, the most reviled part of Karachi, that huge metropolis, that is the heart of Pakistan.
My first introduction to Lyari was when I was a child some 40 years ago when my mother was there on some sort of a mission for APWA( All Pakistan Women's Association). Later in the 60's I became more familiar as she crusaded against the use of drugs in schools and especially those in areas like Lyari. I met women & children from Lyari and instantly became friend with such a gregarious and genuine people as a child usually sees the truth in people.Later on being told of Baluch history by Sardar Gabol, a friend of my parents as he often sat in Lady Dufferin Hospital as a board member and by justice Marri, who gave me a poetry book of Baluch history as translated and collected by him  when I was 14 and taking English tuition for his girls who were my age, I came to know the real people of Baluchistan.This was initially a matriarchal society and was therefore. extremely loving, tolerant and nurturing . Later on as a doctor my patients from Lyari also told me stories and the suffering and endurance that they had to undergo, living as single parents as most of their men had gone to Middle East in Bhutto's employment program. These children grew up in an environment without proper education and mostly urbanized yet poor living conditions.As these families were then mainly socially supported by their relatives who again were less privileged in education and social status clung to their tribal and family roots.
These women and children had to face all difficulties of single parenthood, living without education in an alien urban atmosphere. I am surprised that to this day the University of Karachi or for that matter any in Sindh & Pakistan have not done any research & analysis on such an intense topic of urban integration, drugs & crime. What were the socio-political reasons of this kind of pariah status that Lyari has earned? No research publications. This shows the apathy and disinterested academia and all our politicians have towards our social ills. They think that just by an operation by the police will be able to wipe out the locality off the criminals.

Little do they know that decades of neglect has ruined the streets of this township.The criminality has not taken place within a decade. The failed governance model of this township is also an eyeopener and a lamp burner for the political parties like the Pakistan Peoples Party, who do the politics of emotions in this township and the PML-Nawaz which is trying to snatch away its vote-bank and part of which is this Uzair Baloch/Zafar Baloch phenomenon .In recent decade this group has become the strong arm of the Peoples Amn committee away fro the other armed groups such as Ghaffar Zikri & Arshad Pappoo. The "Gubber Singish" Chaudry Aslam (Cop of Karachi) has been attacked in his Defence home by the criminal gangs and had vouched to finish off the Lyari gangs (or some of them).

Post 2009 Ashura bomb blasts and arson of entire markets of M.A. Road and surrounding areas , the business community was also interested in getting these Lyari gangs under control.
 As the then home minister Zulfiqar Mirza, was the close friend of the leaders of Peoples Amn Committee, he appeared to side up with them and as generally the MQM was the party more vocal for the business community this action was always delayed or never taken. Zulfiqar Mirza is also the husband of  Fahmida Mirza, speaker National Assembly and friend of the president Asif Ali Zardari. The problems of Lyari remained as no serious effort by friends and foes was made to convene any study at a larger level academically to see the reasons for conflict and any means suggested for its resolution .
The power game by the armed gangs in Lyari is the main problem. It has never been tackled or solved or even handled by its political leadership which is to this day with Pakistan Peoples Party (Nabil Gabol at this time).
Now this new turf war was taking place to dislodge the PPP (Zulfiqar Mirza faction backed ) Uzair Baluch group who have threatened to go over to PML-N side. As shown in live television news clips, armed with latest automatic weapons and offering stiff resistance to a relatively less armed and unprepared  police force (Three policemen including SHO Civil Lines lost in first frontal attack on Lyari on first day), many questions arise to the efficacy and efficiency of the operation and the executors.

The president, Asif Ali Zardari has planned to uplift Lyari and prepare ground for his son Bilawal's first triumphant entry into the national assembly. For this end he has made the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Shaheed University of which an esteemed faculty has been instituted.In order for it to function flawlessly and impart education to Lyariites and outsiders , there is need for impeccable law and order including non-ethnic peace.
This maybe an operation for this purpose also.

This choice of armed assault in urban densely populated area is very damaging for the women, children, old and sick of the area. The elected representatives of this area were so much at distance with their people that they were unable to resolve this issue in a less violent manner and the ganged up leaders had taken the whole community hostage. This happens when the intellectuals and socially responsible distance themselves from politics and popular parties like the PPP chose candidates on basis of muscle power and  feudal to ensure votes. Pakistan is changing in both its rural and urban  politics. Very soon the poor, disenfranchised, down trodden labor, tiller, workers will speak and for towns like Lyari this may be an opportunity to change its criminal label to the one of Free & Fair Revolution. The question is are we prepared? For liberation from elitism and tyranny? Are we prepared as a people?

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