- Ethnic identity is over powering Pakistanism. The basis of Pakistan nationalism was the brotherhood of all components of the nation, whereas in recent past the grip of unity of Pakistan nationalism has been weakening. In the recent past the first official patronage given to ethnicity was the creation of Khayber Pakhtun Khawa Province. Now the ruling Party has included in its manifesto its plans to creation three more ethnic provinces including Sraiki Provinces. Were more provinces suggested for administrative reasons that would have been a different reason. In this atmosphere the ethnic differences are asserting themselves and in fact poised to clash.
Tensions between the MQM and the PPP have escalated. There were reports that senior minister Sindh, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, met the MQM’s sworn enemy Afaq Ahmed of the MQM-Haqiqi in jail. MQM’s Anis Ahmed Kaimkhani alleged that Mirza and Afaq “hatched a plan to cut off the telephones lines of Nine Zero and then attack the MQM headquarters with terrorists and members of the People’s Amn Committee”. Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik tried to pour oil on troubled waters and made his usual placatory noises but the situation in Karachi remains grim. When the MQM left the coalition government this time, we had cautioned in this space that there would be more violence in Karachi. Now with the PPP denying the MQM its power base by restructuring the system, things have become more complicated than ever. The implications of the trajectory of the events in Karachi are grave.
Things being as tense as they are, there are advocates of calling in the military. This should be avoided at all costs. Inviting the military to control Karachi may open the doors to another military intervention. Also, as the 1992 experience proved, military might is a blunt weapon that should not be used for urban troubles. If the military is unleashed, the fallout would be dangerous; the damage may be permanent, but the ‘good’ effect (peace and quiet) will not last. Experience shows that when the MQM was rehabilitated by the very same establishment that tried to quell it by military force in 1992, Karachi was laid open to the very risks the military operation was intended to do away with. The central role in any kind of urban troubles has to be that of the police and intelligence. There is a need to strengthen the police by depoliticising it, allowing it to carry out its duties without fear of political ramifications and supporting it against all inimical forces. This is the only solution to control the spiral of violence that has taken over the city of lights.