Once again, the city of lights stands doused in blood. Karachi has been in the grip of fear and violence for most of this week, and tragically, there is much that points towards a definite case of ethnic hostility.
The majority of the people who died were Pathans while some hailed from the Mohajir community. This is an eerie reminder of the bloodstained mid-1980s, when Pathan-Mohajir clashes broke out only to intensify. In the current situation, there is widespread anarchy with vehicles being set ablaze and raging crossfire spreading through the metropolis, bringing public transport and economic activity to a grinding halt, besides causing educational institutes to be closed.
Regrettably, this is yet another episode of carnage that has made the ineptitude of the city administration and law-enforcement agencies as clear as day. It is no secret that Karachi is perhaps our most vulnerable city when it comes to political crime. It does not take a lot to fan the flames of political and ethnic tensions in this city.
Why then have democratic dispensations failed to at least curb political patronage that spawns police apathy and spells destruction for civil society? Needless to say, the fact that a city of such large proportions is at the mercy of a police force plagued with indigence and nepotism, does precious little for its security. And, indisputably, politics and police are far from cordial bedfellows. Take Lyari for instance, a pocket that is easily the city’s greatest contradiction.
Despite being a PPP stronghold, it remains a gangster-infested war zone and one wonders why the home department, police and the Rangers have repeatedly failed to sustain peace in the locality. The perpetual bloodshed in an already dispossessed neighbourhood has, aside from costing lives and livelihoods, also bred tremendous bitterness towards the party leadership.
However, as Karachi fast turns into a simmering ethnic cauldron once again, it is the political leadership that must show a greater determination to act. There is no better deterrent than to compel party ranks to take a cue from their leaders’ oft-repeated mantra of tolerance and harmony — and there is no reason why Sindh’s coalition government, which includes the PPP, MQM and the ANP, should not be able to communicate this message forcefully to their respective supporters.
Also, authorities have failed to implement airtight security apparatus such as CCTVs, helplines and empowered police patrolling; without these Karachi is no less than a ticking time bomb. It is hoped that the home department will treat the metropolis’ recent flare-up as a build-up towards the May 12 anniversary and initiate a foolproof action plan involving abundant security deployment across the city. Otherwise, the current tension may end in a larger tragedy.