The bodies are piling up in Karachi because those struggling for power in the city are following a strategy of body counts. The dead are just names and statistics and in some cases they are nameless because that is how the media is reporting their senseless death. There is no mention of who they are, what they did for a living, whether they had a family and why they were shot dead on the street or snatched tortured killed and thrown like garbage in sacks. More than a hundred have died in five days with over 20 dead in the last two days—Sunday and Monday. Hundreds have died earlier. Today, Tuesday is a day of mourning In Karachi and Hyderabad because a political party has decreed that it be so but Karachiites do not know who they are mourning—just the dead in what has become the city of death.
The wise owls who regale us on the media with their wisdom and insight are explaining that this is a power struggle for control of the city or parts of it between three political parties—each representing a particular ethnic group. Each party has criminal gangs affiliated with it to do the killing on the streets. These criminal gangs hope to run drug, weapons, and gambling, extortion and prostitution rackets once their party gains control. They all have hit men—guns for hire—attracted to the city from all parts of the country and even from across the borders. Unlike gang and mafia wars in other countries the people being killed are not those vying for power or those involved in criminal activities—they are all safe. The ones being killed are ordinary citizens going about their lives or in some cases journalists or other professionals who have by some act angered those calling the shots. The struggle in Karachi is a sordid, disgusting and terribly macabre activity that defies logic and the norms of human behavior.
Karachi as seen on TV screens across the world for the last several months presents the spectacle of a city out of control in a country fast slipping into anarchy as its economy declines and the social fabric is ripped apart. Those with sectarian, ethnic, destabilization and other destructive agendas for Pakistan would be fools to pass up the opportunity to take advantage of the mayhem that is Karachi. No one believes anything that they are being told and everyone knows that you do not launch operations or surgical strikes by announcing beforehand that you are about to do so. The writing on the wall is that no one has an answer for what is going on in Karachi—not that anyone has an answer for what is going on in the rest of the country.
Instead of moaning, whining and crying on the media the need is for the people to be educated on the need for population control measures, on asking shopkeepers to pay taxes on sales and for people to protect themselves and articulate what they want from their government. A statement from the military saying that they were concerned over the situation in Karachi even though tempered by a stated confidence in the government sent hope surging and then another statement offering to bring Karachi under control told the people that at least someone thought they could control the situation before it reached a point of no return. The military is an institution of the government and part of the state resources for enforcement of its writ. The need is for a civil-military combine to tackle the problem but for that political sacrifices have to be made. Is anyone ready to do that?
By Ghalib Sultan