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جمعہ، 19 اگست، 2011

The killing fields of Karachi.

Karachi has been a victim of unrest since the last two decades. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, almost 800 people have been killed in Karachi in ethnically and politically motivated violence since the beginning of the year. More than 300 people were killed in the last month alone. We have been repeating in this space that restoring peace in Karachi is imperative for Pakistan's economic growth. The law and order situation in Karachi seems completely out of control. The government had better wake up and take serious steps to overcome the chaos. All parties should be invited to sit together and brainstorm over the issue. Police should be empowered and supported to launch operations without discrimination and nab the culprits regardless of  their political or ethnic affilations.

For Karachi’s fiddlers, the chickens have come home to roost. But paying the terrible price are its innocent residents. Over the past two days, the beleaguered port city is in the deadly lap of a horrific bloodbath. The carnage has claimed nearly four dozens of lives. And as yet the mayhem has no end in sight. The city law-enforcers have very conveniently dismissed the holocaust as turf war of the criminal gangs, as if such bloodletting is okay as far as they are concerned and may go on. But it is not. It is their bounden duty and inescapable responsibility to the citizens to end this war. The gangs may be killing their adversaries. But mostly being felled in their indiscriminate firing, rocket attacks and grenade strikes are innocent citizens. More culpably, why are the criminal gangs in existence at all in the first place, operating so freely to sink the nation’s key economic hub in bloodshed so brutally? Isn’t it the law-enforces job to cripple, hobble and dismantle the criminal gangs to keep the city peaceful and calm? Nonetheless, the real truth is more horrible. As criminal gangs nowhere in the world can subsist without powerful connections and patronage, the Karachi gangsters too are thriving likewise. From one to all, they have formidable props to back them up in their criminality. They have the right connections both in the officialdom and the political patronage, notwithstanding the spurious postures of piety being paraded by the administrative echelons and the political formations. More disastrously, for their political expediencies and blind madness to keep a fickle-minded blackmailing political entity on their right side, the ruling clan has not just set afire rabid ethnic sentiments in the interior Sindh but has given a big shot in the arm of the Karachi gangs to occupy a space that no sensible leadership would allow to criminals in any event and at any cost. From protégés they have outgrown into paramount masters. Indeed, for this stupidity of the ruling clan Karachi has slipped deep into a bottomless black hole like the one an intensely distressed Mexico of today finds itself in.

 Over the time, the country’s political class let the drug mafias to infest it and use these criminal elements as their fundraisers as well as hit-men to eliminate their political foes. These mafias, in time, laid deep inroads in the administration, too, to play their illicit trades on corrupted official backs. But gradually the drugs dons took the driving seat and instead of supplicants turned into power wielders. President Felipe Calderon soon after assuming office in 2006 mounted a powerful campaign to dismantle the drug mafias and rid his troubled citizens of their violence, bloodletting and criminality. But so entrenched are they that Calderon’s campaign has run into troubles. The mafias have ganged up to put up such a combined bloody fight against the state security forces that the Mexicans have burst out into a public outcry to end the campaign. Although they are very incensed with the administration of the neighbouring America for not denying the havens to the Mexican drugs mafias and not preventing arms supplies to them from across the border, they are deeply frustrated and frightened by the large-scale slaughter, mostly civilians’, that this campaign has resulted in so far without a victory of the state forces over the drugs gangs.

 Over 700 people have been killed so far and the mafias are still subsisting in strength, with the country’s certain areas under their full sway, so strongly have they embedded themselves over the time.Make no mistake. The way things are going on, Karachi’s residents may find themselves sooner than later reduced to a pathetic predicament like the Mexicans’. Evidently, the criminal mafias in the port city are taking a life of their own, beyond the control of their protectors in the political class and the administration. It is still time that this near-certain catastrophe can be averted. For this, the ruling clan has just to shed off its political expediencies and unveil an iron hand to take on the criminal gangs indiscriminately and ruthlessly. All that jiggery-pokery of reconciliation, all-parties political dialogue and what not must be stubbed out and a strong action be put in place to decimate the gangs. For the campaign’s efficacy, all private armies being harboured by each and every political and confessional entity, including the ruling clan, will necessarily have to be demobilised first. There can be no exception or laxity whatsoever on this count if the port city is to be returned to sanity.
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