Monday, December 1, 2008

Whose Karachi?

Death toll mounts to 43 in Karachi violence

KARACHI: At least 43 people were killed and over 125 wounded as firing and violent incidents continued to affect the country’s financial capital on Monday.

According to reports, unidentified miscreants torched dozens of vehicles, timber market, marriage hall, godown and a garbage house in separate violent incidents in the metropolis.

While law enforcement agencies failed to bring the situation under control as 14 more people were killed in different areas today. Five out of 14 bodies could not be shifted to hospitals.

In another incident, unknown gunmen shot dead five people in Raees Amrohi Colony of Orangi Town, increasing the death toll in three days’ violence to 43.

Sindh Government had imposed a three-day b..... more


After all, the telephonic speeches from London had been shouting hoarse since months now that Karachi is being infiltrated by Taliban and citizens should sell TVs and VCRs and buy guns and form vigilance committees (quite comically ... to learn Judo & Karate as well).

I doubt any citizen did that, but it would have created enough fear amongst the residents of North Karachi areas close to Pushtun colonies to condone the MQM gangs roaming around setting Pushtun businesses on fire. I myself last Friday saw cheap Pushtun owned restaurants' furniture thrown on the street in Gulistan-e-Jauhar. Pushtuns retaliated the next day and forced shuttering down of the city's biggest clothing market - Zainab Market of central Saddar mostly owned by Urdu-speaking Karachiites, killing three.

They (Pushtuns) also run the entire public transport in the city as well as long-haul upcountry, are concentrated around the highway arteries leading into Karachi, and can shut down the city more effectively and rapidly if attacked than MQM had been doing through coerced strikes in the 90s. No dearth of firepower of-course which would have only increased since then.

Taliban will not come to Karachi. They have no fight here. The raising of ethnic tensions is towards the long held single agenda of domination of Karachi by MQM. Now that the refugees from the military operation in Bajaur and Mohmand agency have started trickling in looking for livelihood - Karachi being the largest Pushtun population city in the country, every upcountry Pushtun knows someone or the other here - MQM feels its hold may be threatened. Therefore first the beating of drums of a Taliban threat, next the demand for registration of non-resident entrants, and now the raiding of Pushtun businesses. It can only result in ethnic warfare in streets and ransacking in ethnically mixed residential districts - engulfing the city in fire.

But, this ethnic alienation is supported by a majority of Urdu-speaking voters of UP and Bihar origins in Urban Sind (Muhajirs as they prefer to be called) and they will keep MQM in power of one sort or another. All because of the unfounded insecurity created by exactly such manipulation.

The 'Garbage House' referred to in the above news story is one of the common Pushtun-run collection centers where recyclable waste is delivered by Afghan refugee children scavenging for a few Rupees a day.

I can't see how this will not add to further insecurity rather than reducing any even if it exists.


rsw said...

I heard that Saleem Shehzad is back too, and also that this is part of MQM's bid to negotiate a better position for itself in the federal cabinet.

Majumdar said...

Zee sahib,

If MQM is behind this, this is a dangerous game. They are risking burning the only city where they have a base and Pushtoons are not exactly a pushover.


Zeemax said...


I recall you had asked re the demographic impact of the 300,000+ Bajaur refugees upon the rest of the country. I had then estimated many will head to Karachi, and that's what you're seeing now. It was inevitable.

Of-course none of these refugees is Taliban - if they were they wouldn't be refugees - but they are unwelcome to MQM on ethnic grounds.

The PPP does not support this ethnic strife by their coalition partners and shoot-on-sight orders of rioters have been given by the provincial Home Minister, but I doubt these will be carried out. That will only drag in the police / rangers as well in the fight and it has all been seen before.

Re Pushtuns, the threatening slogans / wall-chalkings by them on busy thoroughfares are quite scary.

Majumdar said...

Zee sahib,

Incidentally, India is facing a similar situation in Assam, you would have recalled the Udaigiri incident of riotings.

Pushtoons also control water supply and transport in Khi, no? They cud bring down the city even without resort to arms.


Zeemax said...


True. Not too long ago there was an ill-conceived move to outlaw two stroke auto-rickshaws without a support scheme for purchase of four stroke ones, and just the rickshaw drivers brought the city to a standstill by blocking all major roads.

rsw said...

zeemax, how do you think the ANP is going to come out of this? Do you think Pakhtuns in Karachi are going to be disgusted by how gutlessly ANP stood up to MQM? (if it was MQM that was responsible)

Zeemax said...


The trouble had started in Banaras Colony where Pathan businesses were shut down by MQM people and pushcart vendors shot. Then on the things do not seem to be in control of ANP local leadership and the trouble spread in entire North Karachi to the extent that people are shifting out of each others' areas.

It seems the top ANP leadership is looking the other way because of its coalition with MQM in the center and letting the locals sort things out amongst themselves.

Zeemax said...

BTW one of the large 40 foot slogans written on a wall along Mai Kolachi Road (a Pushtoon district) was:

"Kheer mango to kheer daingey; Karachi mango tau cheer daingey"


If you ask for sweets, we'll give you sweets; If you ask for Karachi, we'll slaughter you.

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