IN a tragic incident, Manzar Imam, a member of provincial assembly of Sindh, belonging to MQM, and three of his guards were gunned down in Karachi on Thursday. Four armed men riding motorcycles intercepted his vehicle and sprayed them with bullets with automatic weapons. A TTP spokesman has reportedly accepted responsibility for the dastardly target killing that has once again disturbed peace of the city.
This is shocking that the situation in Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan and its commercial capital, continues to deteriorate as law enforcing regime is more or less collapsing to the hilt. The new wave of bloodshed on Thursday saw a Muttahida Qaumi Movement MPA Syed Manzar Imam and eight others being gunned down, falling to target killing, in different districts. The MPA’s driver and two security guards were among them. Although the inept police said the assailants were not identified, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed the responsibility terming it the first step of the “pledge” it had made to protect the people of Karachi from MQM. After the incident, tensions gripped the city as angry protesters took to streets, resorted to aerial firing and forced shopkeepers to pull down their shutters. At least five vehicles were set afire in different areas of the city and people rushed home to avoid any potential violent backlash. The MQM Coordination Committee announced three days of mourning and asked its supporters to remain peaceful. This is the second shooting of an MQM provincial lawmaker in just over two years in Karachi. The death of MQM MPA Raza Haider, on whose seat Imam was elected to Sindh PA, in an ambush in August 2010 sparked a fierce wave of ethnic and politically-linked violence that killed over hundred people.
Karachi, once the city of lights, started bleeding with mafias, backed by political parties, gaining control over land for political dominance of the port city as back as late 1980’s. This violence has now added more characteristics in it as political and ethnic prejudices have also been added to the reasons, notwithstanding the element of terrorism. But no corrective measures have been taken to restore normal life for decades. The city is invariably crippled with every new target killing that forces business being shut and transport withdrawn; no normal socio-economic life is left for about 18 million of its residents. On an average 10 people are dying by assassins bullets on streets every day and yet the government does not seem moved enough to discharge its constitutional duty. Besides, every day passing under these distressing conditions add to the financial loss of no less than Rs5 billion and that too big a blow for the country’s fragile economy.
The situation weeks before elections is all the more distressing because polling in this city under the circumstances may pose a problem. The federation imposed governor’s rule in Balchistan for poor law and order conditions and Sindh is no better off either on the same count. Would Syed Qaim Ali Shah would also like see the province treated similarly? His administration has, too, for all practical and moral purposes, lost its justification to govern.
The Supreme Court announced in October last year an overarching judgment on the law and order situation and target killings in Karachi and criticized both the federal and Sindh governments for their failure to ensure peaceful economic activity in the city. It termed the “unimaginable brutalities” a result of a turf war aimed at keeping socio-political control over the city. The verdict called for new laws to deal with the menace of land-grabbing, creation of an independent and a de-politicized investigation agency to investigate crimes and setting up of a special cell to deal with illegal immigrants. Deplorably, the Sindh government showed a total indifference to the SC guidelines and allowed the allowed the conditions to remain as frightful as before. Non-implementation of the SC verdict keeps on the residents of the largest city hostage to high uncertainty and extreme fear.
The solution of the issue that is eating up the city’s socio-economic and commercial life like a termite is simple yet extremely difficult. If all the political parties in Sindh, whether in government or in opposition, are prepared to boldly plead for an even-handed dealing of the violent question and accept their role in resolving the maddening affair with a strong political will, the solution is easy. If this approach is not accepted, the solution is almost impossible. It is Sindh political leadership alone to decide, and decide immediately, if they want peace or allow the city keep on bleeding. And ruling PPP and MQM have a bigger responsibility; if and when they show willingness, there will remain no conflict, no violence in the largest city of Pakistan.
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