Karachi, Beirut of South Asia
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
By B Raman
Issue Net Edition | Date : 09 Jul , 2011

It is the fear of an eventual Pashtunisation and Wahabisation of Karachi that has made the Mohajirs take to violence “¦

This has added a political dimension to the violence with the MQM trying to counter the presence and influence of the ANP in Karachi, despite its reputation as a party of moderate Pashtuns.

Karachi has been seeing eruptions of ethnic and sectarian violence from time to time for over two decades now. It has taken a disturbingly virulent form since last year.

According to the “Daily Times” of Lahore of January 1,2011, during 2010, at least 705 people, including 488 political and religious leaders and activists, fell prey to targeted killings in Karachi. In addition,74 others died in explosions all over Karachi during the year. As against 779 people who died due to ethnic and sectarian violence in Karachi during 2010, only 427 people died due to the acts of suicide terrorism by the Pakistani Taliban in the entire non-Pashtun belt of Pakistan and 797 in the Pashtun belt. This would give an indication of the seriousness of the situation in Karachi, which is considered the economic capital of Pakistan. The situation in Karachi has been as serious as that in the Pashtun belt and much more serious than that in the non-Pashtun belt.

This virulence has aggravated further this year resulting in over 1000 deaths since the beginning of this year, with over 100 deaths in the last five days. From targeted killings of each other by different ethnic and sectarian groups, it has degenerated into a Beirut-like situation with the use of more and more sophisticated weapons by the fighting groups and attacks on infrastructure such as electric transformers and electricity supply lines. Whereas in the past, mainly individuals were targeted and killed, now there are group clashes in different areas which have resulted in many internally displaced persons moving from one area to another seeking protection.

The situation has serious implications because of the fact that Karachi is the economic capital of Pakistan”¦

The situation has serious implications because of the fact that Karachi is the economic capital of Pakistan and has the only satisfactorily functioning major international port catering to the external trade of Pakistan. The continued flow of logistic supplies, which come by sea, to the NATO forces in Afghanistan, would depend on a satisfactory internal security situation in this city. Moreover, Karachi has the only major naval base of Pakistan.

Despite these factors, the Government of Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani has been ineffective in restoring law and order despite the fact that the MQM and the ANP were its coalition partners till now. Recently, there have been unconfirmed reports of the MQM having left the coalition due to the postponement of elections to the Assembly of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir from the Kashmiri refugee constituency in Karachi. Mr.Gilani has, however, denied that the MQM has carried out its threat to leave the coalition.

Some analysts in Pakistan look upon the recent spurt in violence in Karachi as an attempt by the MQM to intimidate the Federal Government into conceding its demands. Whatever may be the truth, the fact is that the situation in Karachi has been going from bad to worse. If this continues unchecked and unattended, the two Talibans may be the ultimate beneficiaries.

1 2
Rate this Article
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

B Raman

Former, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai & Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat. He is the author of The Kaoboys of R&AW, A Terrorist State as a Frontline Ally,  INTELLIGENCE, PAST, PRESENT & FUTUREMumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy and Terrorism: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

More by the same author

Post your Comment

2000characters left