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Karachi: The Centre of Communal and Extremist Activities




By Mujahid Hussain, New Age Islam

February 13, 2013

The growing intensity of internecine wars between the factions of Taliban around Peshawar is indicative of the fact that a new storm is raising its head in tribal areas. But the Pakistani media has been immediately prevented from publishing the details of these wars. On the other hand, the growing number of the Taliban cadre and their supporters gives foreboding of more bloodshed in the city. The MQM wants annihilation of all its opponents but many forces are coming together to annihilate the MQM.  For example, the outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba along with their ideological comrades Jaish-e-Muhammad have been making communal attacks against the MQM. In this entire war, the ANP and the anti-social groups whom the Pakistani media calls Gang are also doing their work. The Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan has released a video message claiming that they have already carried out two planned attacks on the MQM. The first attack was made on a public meeting of the MQM while in the other, the state member of assembly of the MQM, Manzar Imam (whose name speaks of his sectarian affiliations) was gunned down along with his bodyguards.

The general opinion about Karachi in other cities is that the MQM which enjoys a clear majority in the city is solely responsible for all its problems. All the crimes from killings and extortions are flourishing under the MQM and by giving patronage to these crimes, the MQM gains wealth and power. The leader of the MQM, Altaf Hussain has been living in exile and claims that he does not go to Pakistan because of fear for his life. He has expressed his willingness to visit Pakistan on a number of times in the past but according to him, the decision making body -- the co-ordination committee -- and its members have been discouraging him to go to Pakistan. Currently, a case is being heard in the Supreme Court of Pakistan about the killings and bloodshed in Karachi about which the general view is that the decision in it will decide the fate of the forces responsible for the anarchy in Karachi.  The adjudications of the courts along with the reports of the inquiry committees formed on important incidents and developments in Pakistan have borne no fruits in the past. Let’s see what happens this time around.

The current specific demography of the Karachi, powerful communal and religious and linguistic extremist groups and the mutual differences and the battle for power among at least three major political parties, and political and economic interests attached to them have created such a complicated situation that any simple and short-sighted solution for Karachi does not seem to have a long lasting impact. The simpletons desiring a change in the situation overnight have the belief that a ruthless military operation in Karachi will quickly cure the malady but the situation is so grim that it is very difficult to drive out all the forces from religious extremists to the communal and linguistic groups. On the other hand, neither the extremists are alone nor the communal groups lack supporters besides that fact that the number of people getting support of political and linguistic groups is also high.

The deadliest of the many ills that have been sticking to the existence of Karachi is the dominant presence of the Taliban, the communal forces and their affiliates. The tradition of capturing specific areas by the political, linguistic and religious groups with their comrades-in-arms has taken deep roots in the city. For example, everyone knows which group or sect controls a particular area and how much control it has there. Small colonies have come into existence where the rule and writ of the dominant group runs. Neither the police nor any member of the opposite group can dare to enter the area. Everyone right from children to the women is part of a strong system of ‘surveillance’ because of which neither the law enforcing agencies succeed in their efforts nor any other group can develop its clout in that area. Press reporters gather the news of casualties from these divided areas in the evening and the next morning the whole of Karachi seems to be burning.

The intelligence agencies of Pakistan have contributed largely to the shaping of the current situation of Karachi. There was a time when to achieve their goals, these establishments armed the linguistic groups providing them appropriate ‘facilities’ and even used the communal madrasas and religious centres of Karachi to organise killings and bloodshed in Pakistan. Whether it is Jihad in Afghanistan or Kashmir, Karachi always extended support to the adventurist forces and individuals providing them with man force and ideological aid. For example, though the communal war started in the district of Jhang and its suburbs in Punjab, later trained hit men, mercenaries and student reinforcements were dispatched from madrasas in Karachi for carrying out massacres and killings in distant areas.  The extremists associated with particular sects played an important role in fomenting sectarian and communal tensions and it was in Karachi where the tradition of communal killing in ambush was started.  According to a conservative estimate, more than hundred professors, doctors and important people from different walks of life were killed in ambush only in two years. All the ingredients of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the most ruthless group in terms of sectarian killings so far were prepared in Karachi and then it wreaked havoc in Pakistan.

In many respects, Karachi has gone out of the state’s control and therefore, it now seems very difficult to transform it into a peaceful city. Today all the players associated with sectarian killings and political and linguistic battles are associated with this city in one or the other way. The army very well knows that Karachi is a haven for the Taliban and other religious and sectarian extremists. Besides this, Karachi is also a centre of political and linguistic controversies. That’s why it is almost impossible to save Karachi from imminent disasters.

The author of nine books including the recently published book ‘Punjabi Taliban’, Mujahid Hussain writes a regular column for New Age Islam. He has been writing for various newspapers as an investigative journalist for the last two decades. His writings cover a wide range of issues involving Pakistan. In recent years, local, regional and international affairs relating to terrorism and security have been the subject of his study.