Unrest in Karachi

The unrest starts up again – in many areas of the city the past few days there have been _disturbances_. Just today, going to Plaza the roads were partially blocked. Sirens screamed in the evening and roads were shut. There were police posted at every corner – very firmly posted indeed. As I passed by Abdullah Haroon road, the road was blocked off and apparently some not-very-pleasant things were going on. Saddar closed down as I passed through it – and this is a place where the lights never go off before midnight.

Perhaps it’s just a bad week – but the overall mood seems to be ugly. Things are far from bad – _compared to the 90’s_ – but once again you have to move around with caution. People stayed back late at work as they couldn’t get home – buses not running – *fear is in the air once again*.

The cause of all this? “Shamzai?”:http://www.dawn.com/2004/05/31/top3.htm Nothing is certain in this city. Is it the religious mafia showing their displeasure? Or is it just random nutjobs? Once again the usual prominent _Islamic leaders_ proclaimed that a fellow Muslim could do no such thing and it had to be the work of an outside agency (meaning: the Indians). Of course, by doing so they conveniently ignore 1400 odd years of historical precedent – but then they can’t really be expected to know of events dating so far back.

Whatever the causes, it’s definitely not business as usual:

* ‘Dawn: KARACHI: Book bazaar not held due to law, order situation’:http://www.dawn.com/2004/05/31/local3.htm

* “Dawn: KARACHI: Angry mob damages property, 20 vehicles – Mufti Shamzai’s killing”:http://www.dawn.com/2004/05/31/local1.htm

*Breaking News*: As I write this, yet one more bomb blast in the city:

bq. KARACHI: At least thirteen worshipers, including a child, were killed and 29 reportedly injured when a powerful blast went off in Imambargah Ali Raza at M.A. Jinnah road on Monday evening.

>> “At least thirteen killed, 29 hurt in another Karachi mosque blast”:http://jang-group.com/thenews/may2004-daily/31-05-2004/main/update.shtml

bq. Mosque Explosion in Karachi Leaves 15 Dead : KARACHI, May 31: A bomb explosion ripped through a Shiite Muslim mosque in Karachi today, killing at least 15 people and wounding more than 35, police said. Witnesses said a blast rocked the Imam Bargah Ali Raza mosque during evening prayers – the latest in a series of terrorist attacks to hit Karachi. A senior official said the attack was possible retaliation for the assassination of a senior Sunni Muslim cleric in the city on Sunday. Tariq Jamil, chief of operations of Karachi police, said it was a “high-intensity bomb” and at least 15 people were killed and more than 35 injured.

>> “Dawn: Breaking News May 31”:http://www.dawn.com/2004/05/31/welcome.htm

Many are worried now about the Shia response. This is yet one more of many Shia mosques blown up in this city…. things are going to get really ugly now.

*Update:* An outside view of Karachi:

bq. Karachi is starting to seem like Baghdad with ‘four major bombings’:http://www.paktribune.com/news/index.php?id=66569 in less than two weeks, ‘assassinations’:http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/002083.php, and ‘major riots’:http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0601/dailyUpdate.html. The US recently put out warnings, saying there would most likely be more attacks and it seems like Al Queda is behind the bombings trying to create instability in Karachi it can exploit. No matter who is to ‘blame’:http://www.hipakistan.com/en/detail.php?newsId=en66121&F_catID=&f_type=source Karachi is a ‘powder keg’:http://www.nirajweb.net/mt/niraj/archives/002537.html that needs very little to ignite.

>> ‘Robi’s S. Asia Briefing: 2004-06-02’:http://windsofchange.net/archives/005017.php

8 thoughts on “Unrest in Karachi”

  1. It’s not Karachi alone to be worried about (though living in Karachi implies being very sensitive to law and order of this city and 4 bomb blasts and a killing in 1 month is something significant), the whole world is going through very tough times.

    A few days ago, about 14 foreigners were killed in Saudi Arabia. A few weeks ago a whole family including kids was brutally murdered in Lahore (again a Shia family). The situation in Iraq is known to all.

    Martin Luther King once said, “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power: We have guided missiles and misguided men.” May Allah bless us with wisdom and courage to become humane. But it’s the Divine Script – a few things are inevitable, just like the end of times.

  2. Actually Karachi is a city prone to violence. So the sudden slip into violence can go a long way. That is why we should be concerned about this. Also because we see it with our eyes and it effects us strongly. A murder of a family due to enmity on the one hand and the complete breakdown of law and order on the other are not comparable situations since one can get out of hand like it did on Bander Road today.

  3. It’s not just the sudden slip into violence which is worrying, it’s the mass acceptance that it’s ok to riot and kill after a tragedy. While the majority are obviously not too happy with the state of affairs, it seems to have become the norm amongst gangs all over the world to vent their displeasure by riots and demonstrations. Pakistan, late as usual to worldwide trends, is now fully on board the ‘lets go burn some tires and create a disturbance’ gang mentality.

  4. The only thing which is worrying is the fact that people in Pakistan don’t even show a faint trace of being educated. They are truly acting ignorant.

  5. Er…dude. We’re still here, complaining but STILL here, thank ye!

    KO’s got a point about mass acceptance of rioting after a shootout/assassination/killing.

    Here’s an interesting incident though. After the bombing at the Ali Raza mosque on Monday, the injured/dead were shifted from JPMC to Liaquat National Hospital (among other private hospitals).

    While the doctors and wardboys were all rushing to help put out beds, help injured, sort out carnage, some political activists started chanting slogans right outside the ER. Even when the doctors requested them to keep quite, they vocally disrupted proceedings there. Of course, these activists later took their grievances outside the hospital and rammed cars/buses etc.

    The activists had NOTHING to do with the injured–no one saw them accompany the injured/bodies…they just appeared out of nowhere outside the ward, simply to cause trouble. This is an eyewitness account (source I would trust).

    Sad! Paying people to make a mockery out of tragedies day in and day out.

  6. The incidents of last week have clearly exposed the weakness of our law enforcement agencies. It is my opinion that people around the world (educated or not) have a natural tendency of being violent. We all have savage beasts inside of us. It is the effective enforcement of the rules of a civil society and the fear of consequences that make us act for and towards the common good. After 9/11, muslim neighborhoods in American cities would have been blown off the map were it not for the rule of the law that prevails in the American society.

    I have come to believe that ‘rule of the law’ is the one thing that we need most in Pakistan. Education is good and all, but I don’t think it is the panacea for this problem of lawlessness. Don’t get me wrong – I strongly believe in education, but it is just not the antidote for this poison.

    Now that I feel is great news for us. Educating the masses is a much more difficult and expensive proposition than improving the law enforcement agencies (which in my mind include the police force and the judiciary). While the cause of education has finally struck luck in finding champions in Musharraf and Dr Ata-ur-Rehman, very little has been done to improve the law enforcement agencies. This is a very clear case of misplaced priorities. There is no point in educating someone when you cannot guarantee the protection of his/her life. Among the educated people you churn out, the ones who manage to stay alive will flee the country at the first opportunity. Your efforts and investments will end up benefitting the economies of law-abiding western societies.

    So let’s first focus on the very basics of protecting people’s life, liberty and freedoms. Education Inshallah will get its day. Having said that, Shaukat, can we please divert some of the education funds in this budget to reforms in the law enforcement agencies? [just kidding … get them from the military budget, mushi won’t mind]

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