By Mehr F. Husain
06 September 2013
PAKISTAN Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has two situations on his hands that require immediate attention and action— firstly, the Taliban terrorising the entire nation and secondly, the horrific violence destroying the city of Karachi.
So what has been done to address both crucial issues? While no formal talks with the Taliban have materialised yet, the interior minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan issued a statement informing of the PML- N strong government’s somewhat sketchy plan. So far it includes a strategy ( what this involves has not been disclosed) and the hope that all other political parties will be on board to implement it. However, this Taliban related strategy was to take place once the PM returned from his trip to Karachi. But will the situation in Karachi ( which is partly caused by the Taliban present there) be dealt with in a different manner? For if the other political parties are yet to be taken on board regarding the Taliban on a national level then how and where does Karachi fit into this? The Karachi violence and the rise and alarming spread of the Taliban go hand in hand.
It is no secret that the once glorious city of Karachi, now a mere shadow of itself, has been cursed with providing a home to land grabbers, target murderers, religious and sectarian hatred and extortion mafia. But over the past few years the city has plunged into the deepest depths of darkness as any moderates, liberals, progressives and generally innocent people have been eradicated for their beliefs, political allegiances and largely, just for existing.
What has added fuel to the already burning fire is the presence and establishment of the Tehrik- e- Taliban who don’t just recruit youngsters who are frustrated with the status quo but also generate funds through illegal means. When the PPP came to power in 2008 it issued itself the Herculean task of protecting and entrenching democracy in a country which has been ruled by the military for more than it’s life. While the PPP remained successful in delivering the promise of democracy it became increasingly apparent that the PPP government was unable to control Karachi’s violence - the main targets of such this militant groups have been State targets particularly those who have been openly anti- Taliban such as the ANP Party.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has a lot on his hands.
The city was left as a bloody mess to be cleaned up by the next government.
So what now? Well, the MQM demanded that in order to establish peace, all administrative control be handed over to the military. Given the troubled history between the military and the PML N, it must have come as a relief when during a televised transmission the polls showed that the PPP, PTI, PST and JI all said No to a military operation.
Soon after the Prime Minister consulted the heads of all political parties to come to some sort of a consensus and also gain some guidance to improve the law and order in Karachi. While this may be a sign of political maturity it seems that while the government dilly dallys the Taliban is fast at work by encouraging other militant groups such as Lashkar- e- Jhangvi to establish itself and put down roots in the already troubled city. Currently the PML N has a majority and can easily take action if need by and while what Sharif is doing is commendable they need to realise time is running out. What makes the government look even more slow is that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had already issued a Suo Moto notice two years ago taking note of all organisations who had links with the violence. Right now in Karachi, both the police and Rangers morale are at an all time low given the losses it has incurred at the hands of those threatening to run the city into the ground. Security is a word that no longer exists there and those who are responsible for providing it are helpless in the face of such violence which stems from a myriad of factors - ethnic, urban, sectarian and criminal.
KARACHI is an extremely important city for Pakistan, politically and economically.
Any disturbances in Karachi’s economy send shockwaves throughout the country. As the PPP, MQM and ANP know from firsthand experience, the city is also a hotbed for political rivalry and if the current government is to ensure political stability, peace in Karachi is a necessity.
But more importantly, Karachi will be the only way the government can get the Taliban to buckle down as whatever course of action PM Sharif decides to take, it comes to a fight between the civilian elected government and terrorist organisations.
Mehr F. Husain is a Pakistani journalist based in Lahore