By Hamid Waheed
Karachi is the business hub of Pakistan but it has a long history of ethnic conflict, sectarian violence, land mafias and intra- and inter-party tensions. During the past 20 years, Karachi has seen many instances of violence and the disruption of civic life. Sectarian strife and easy availability of weapons were two factors that play a key role in this regard. After 9/11 Karachi has been one of the main target of the Al-Qaeda as it is the major and important transit point used by US military during War On Terror.
The presence of terrorist groups in Karachi in the grab of Afghan refugees have also been reported. Among these terrorist groups Sunni-Shia groups have been alleged of Sunni Shia violence in Karachi. Rehman Malik also said that the terrorism activities in Karachi especially the ashura blast were conducted by Lashkare Jhangvi (LJ). Sunni-Shia sectarian violence has killed as many as 4,000 people in the past 15 years in Pakistan. Present Karachi situation is also a product of the past ethnic violence between Pathan, Sindhi and Mohajar which has now converged to rogue groups within political parties. Some political parties are now also involved in sabotaging the situation and taking the benefit of the situation. Foreign secret agencies and RAW were also actively involved in Karachi carnage and ongoing wave of terrorism in Pakistan. Any outside player would take advantage of the situation provided by the domestic players.
If Karachi descends into violence, or becomes a centre for militants to regroup, the cost to the country can be immense. After analyzing the above circumstances the painful conclusion is that all internal as well as external elements have successfully penetrated the rouge elements within the political parties which are main stakeholders in Karachi. The first step required to handle this situation now revolves around purging out these mafias from political parties before we move to chop-off the foreign hand..
Most of the politicians, media and intellectual suggest political solution to problems in Karachi but their blanket suggestions do not specify by whom and How it will be done. We must understand that for whatever reasons Pakistan’s present politics does not fit anywhere near to the definition of politics “government of the people, for the people and by the people” the essence of true politics lie in the popular leadership having public confidence making popular decisions in public interest, or at times bitter decisions are also required in the larger national interest but not playing into the hands of the outside forces.
Interestingly the institution blamed the most for not letting politics grow due to long spells of dictatorship presently seem totally in supporting role of the government. A portion of media and politicians attribute all wrongs including electricity short fall on dictatorship. They may be right to some extend but now they have the opportunity and the Turkish model to rectify wrongs of the past. In Turkey the political setup proved that they can bring more strength and prosperity in institutions than was possible under military influence in past decades. The way forward for the political set up lies in crossing the limits of standard achieved previously and tells that they have the ability to manage institutions better. There is a need to strengthen and depoliticize the interior law enforcers. In these difficult times public is interested in present and their tomorrow; a road map which leads to somewhere.
Most of the directions shown to public lack implementation and the will of leadership, each day they see minor promises like load shedding schedules during Ramadan being flouted. There has been number of attempts to control law and order of Karachi through political means and each time it has ended into compromise. A compromise acts as a catalyst for the mafia involved in Karachi killing. This breather gives them more physical and psychological ascendency over the poor victims of Karachi. In such environment can there be a political solution is the question touching every heart.
The reality has shown that political stakes do not allow neat and clean arrangements for use of law enforcing instrument. Demand for use of army to solve Karachi problem does not indicate army’s expertise or resources to handle the situation but it’s their non-political inclination towards any political party. Despite wide criticism on army it still holds the public confidence to deliver at the time of crisis without favoritism to a particular class, creed and group of society.
Having said above there are two main solutions. The priority still remains with political solution having true political setup .A setup where leadership does not coerce but derives strength from public sentiments. The second option lies in administrative solution through security apparatus (police, ranger or army) but without any political interference / preference. The government needs to move fast to handle Karachi otherwise the power to choose any of the above solution under present circumstances will have to come through popular public demand. The public will not only have to take decision but also stand behind the implementers of their decision.