Khoon Kharaba

In South Asia on 20. September 2011 at 15:22

When you watch a Bollywood movie based on the mafia networks in underground Mumbai you would probably think it as a film-industry phenomenon to catch the youth audience. Think again!

Pakistan’s largest city, the gateway to the country, its first capital, its financial hub and its multiethnic, cultural, lingual and religious focal point suffers just as much from criminals as does Mumbai on the cinema screen and in real life with the bitter realities of suffering and sorrow.

Local politicians with powerful friends at governmental level, drug-cartels, weapon smuggling industry, sectarian armed terrorists, land-mafia, ethnic supremacists and local thugs are all involved in tit-for-tat killings in order to dominate their areas in the city, and therefore to dominate their influence and criminal activity.

Bullets, blood and corpses. About 1.310 civilians have been killed since January till mid-September this year. This is about the same figures as those of Yemen due to the ongoing Arab spring. Most of the victims are innocent pedestrians belonging to the “wrong” ethnic group in the eyes of the shooter. Others are violent rivals who shoot at sight just by identifying the opposite ethnicity, be it children, women or elders.

Copyright of DAWN-GIS

Such episodes in daily life do something with the mentality of the people. Some days in the summer months had daily death tolls in double digits. Many victims were also abducted, tortured, killed and thrown roadside for the security personnel to find their dead bodies. The families of these victims, who experience such trauma, are compelled to stay silent in order not to provoke retaliation.

The ethnic strife has been going on since Pakistan’s inception when masses of immigrants from India laid their destination to Karachi. The local Sindhi population gradually felt sidelined by the ever growing Muhajir community (which makes up to half the population in Karachi today) and the ethnic hatred among reactionary groups was initiated. Due to strong administrators during the early decades such violence was suppressed, but since the advent of the purist dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq in the late 70s the violence got another turn.

Zia supported and organized along with USA and Saudi-Arabia the Afghan resistance against Soviet invasion. Importing so called holy warriors (mujahedeen) from the gulf-countries (usually troublemakers at home ground). Alongside propaganda was at its best in the Pakistani mainland and major cities. The Khomeini led revolution in Iran in the same period resulted in proxy war in between Pakistani shia allied with Iran and Pakistani purists allied with Zia and partners in the Gulf.

As the terrorist networks started to grow the weapon smuggling and Kalashnikov culture flourished. Free hands and loose restrictions from the authorities resulted in “guns being cheaper than bread” and sold at every street corner. Mafia-networks working with smuggling and sale also grew stronger and had international links to friends in the underground of Mumbai, influential businessmen in UAE and among Russian mafia in Europe.

The drug culture followed as a natural consequence of a weak law and order situation. Poppy fields from afghan fields found their ways through routes in Pakistani cities as Peshawar and Quetta and at last to Karachi and Iran from where they were smuggled to Balkan, European markets and the US. Not to forget the sudden rise in domestic usage of opium among youth which have left several million people victims of big sharks power play. General Zia’s handpicked Governor in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Lieutenant General Fazle Haq was allegedly instrumental in allowing drug and weapon being transited to and from Afghanistan. The former Governor had also links to the BCCI-Scandal which saw the fall of one of the major financial institutions in 1991.

When the dictator died in a plane crash in 1988 the democratic governments in the 90s inherited a weak governmental writ and a strong organized crime. The sectarian strife started to grow as the PML-N led by Nawaz Sharif and a protégé of Zia-ul-Haq continued the policies of his mentor and turned a blind eye alongside the army and ISI on the violence militant organizations was responsible for. PPP led by Benazir Bhutto and her feudal allies on the other hand had little control over the army and its intelligence wing when it came to the crackdown on terrorist organizations.

Benazir served as Prime Minister twice and had to both time accept an arrogant army corps which led its own foreign policy. She hoping to stay in power played along and supported amongst others Taliban to power in Kabul, an Operation which caused the loss of several thousand afghan lives. Both Nawaz and Benazir also had to support the militants who trained their cadres on Pakistani soil and launched attacks cross the border in India and Indian controlled Kashmir.

Such double plays and lack of interest in national security has led to lack of governmental writ on important cities. Only a couple of years ago motorcyclists were afraid of police officers in Karachi of being caught while riding double on one bike. Today such “double-sawaari” is common and the drivers pass by police officers who don’t even bother to notice.

Police is helpless as their hands are shackled by politicians. MQM, the political party representing Muhajirs, fights ANP the party representing Pashtuns. Both are coalition partners at federal level. PPP workers and Sindhi nationalist groupings are also involved with local armed networks. Even sufi organizations like Sunni Tehreek are arming up and is involved in religious violence against Sippah Sahaba Pakistan which in turn is targeting the shias who respond with Tehrik-e-Jafria militant wing. Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamat-e-Ullema Islam are both silently supporting sectarian violence, especially that performed by Sippah Sahaba Pakistan and Taliban against other groupings. In total, all the major stakeholders are in one way or another involved in crime against its own citizens.

When the police at times really do its work and catch those behind killings, the political parties in power send directives to release their workers. Police officials who are afraid of losing ranks and work do comply with orders. When terrorists are caught the religious organizations send their cadres to fill the court rooms and threaten the local judges in order to give the “correct” verdict. Most often witnesses are silenced and the terrorist gets scot free only to end up in Waziristan with fresh supply of rifles and ammunition to fight Pakistani security personnel.

Then the Interior Ministers Rehman Malik makes a statement claiming that “foreign hands” are behind the killing. That Israeli weapon is found in Karachi, and so on and so forth. Neglecting the facts and creating fantasies to serve the public. People are fed up by such lies, but conspiracy loving people like Zaid Hamid are not, they continue with their ranting against an alleged CIA-Mossad-RAW conspiracy against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Just to score some points and win more sympathy from the tired voters Shahbaz Sharif, President of PML-N and Chief Minister of Punjab visited Karachi. He told to the press that Karachi and the province of Sind need to learn law and order situation from Punjab and Lahore. Sharif clearly forgot to mention the deadly terror attacks on shrines and against religious minorities as Christians and Ahmadis. Both of the attacks had somehow links to Sippah Sahaba and the so called Punjabi Taliban, two outfits which share contacts with Rana Sanaullah Khan, Law minister of Punjab and member of PML-N.

On top of that the President Asif Ali Zardari loyalist, Zulfiqar Mirza ranted against MQM chief Altaf Hussain. Taking the oath on Quran Mirza claimed that MQM is working alongside CIA to destroy Pakistan from within. As Pakistanis are uncritically digesting religious symbolic, Zulfiqar became overnight an “honest” voice. The talk of the day shifted from blood stains on the street in Orangi and Lyari to Zulfiqar Mirzas recent brawls.

These days the Frontier Constabulary (FC) and Rangers and among baluchis known as terrorists are deployed in Karachi to ease the violence. The power of the police department is vested on Rangers and many arrests have been made. Some political stakeholders even want a military operation in the city. This is not the way to go. Such clean-up operations have been conducted earlier on and the violence has not stopped. Its main reasons lie in the ruling sectors and the wish to dominate major cities in order to gain from electoral victories and financial profit from criminal activity.

The solution lies in honest leadership, proper will to secure the law and order situation and letting the police doing what is meant to do. Pakistan needs to fight its domestic evils as terrorist networks, even the Taliban and Kashmir “mujahedeen”, there should not be any holy cow. Double play and hypocrisy has only backfired with even stronger force. The court system needs to make example of caught terrorists and criminals and the authorities and political leader’s needs to secure judges and lawyers in order to let this happen.

Till then, the blood will continue to flow. Celebrating independence or republic days are meaningless and becomes hollow compared to the suffering the poor have to go thru.


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