Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Violence erupts in Karachi

There is news coming in that violence has erupted in various areas of Karachi. According to news channels trouble started when lawyers affiliated with the MQM came under attack from other lawyers for taking out a procession condemning the attack on Sher Afgan. The normally sedate and measured MQM took the highly uncharacteristic step of retaliating, and that too with force. As you all know, the power that the MQM's prowess in Karachi is unmatched, so when it decides to flex its muscle, we’re in trouble.

As per live news reports there is indiscriminate firing in Burns Road, M.A.Jinnah Road, Ranchor Lane, Saddar and Malir resulting in the death of 2 people and injuries to more than a dozen others; 40 vehicles (cars and busses) have been burnt; lawyers’ offices around the District and High Court have been set ablaze, including an entire office building opposite the District Court; the Malir Bar Association has been ransacked and set partially on fire; an armed mob has surrounded the District and High Courts, as a result of which, lawyers have taken refuge in the Bar Rooms (there are as yet no pictures of the scenes from outside the Courts – reporters trying to get close have been beaten up).

All this in about an hour of a few MQM lawyers getting beaten up (allegedly). I’m so looking forward to the PPP-MQM power tableau, I’m sure they’ll work harmoniously to ensure peace and prosperity for all.

On a positive note, most people are racing home now, which means that in an hour the roads will be quite empty and I will have an enjoyable drive home.

Update 1: An Edhi ambulance driver has been confirmed as dead; the toll is now 3 dead and 18 injured. Tariq Road has been shut down, Police and Rangers are patrolling the area. Intermittent sirens can be heard on Shahrah-e-Faisal (which has bumper to bumper traffic - airport bound). There are also reports of violence coming in from Shah Faisal Colony and Teen Hatti. This thing is not dying down as quickly as I'd anticipated.

Update 2 (18:20): The situation is refusing to get better. There are now 5 reported deaths. A colleague tells me that a Bank near McDonalds on Tariq Road has been burnt down(looted?), taking the total to 2 . There is also some unrest in Nazimabad and Nagan Chowrangi. zamzama has been shut down. I'm no longer waiting for the violence to subside; better to head home in the sunlight I'm thinking.

Update 3 (19:15): I've reached home. Took Kala Pul en route from Shahrah-e-Faisal to Defence. The road was quite empty. There is very little public transport on the roads and I saw tons of people waiting for buses, etc. There is a traffic jam on Korangi Road leading up to the KPT flyover resulting from unrest in the Korangi Industrial Area and Landhi, where a few a cars have been burnt. The death toll is now 8. Sherry Rehman, our Minister of Information, accompanied by a few members of the cabinet, is holding a Press Conference; point of discussion - the economic situation in the country due to mismanagement by the previous regime. A Cabinet Meeting was held today under the leadership of the PM and that's what they discussed. For the love of God woman, at least acknwoledge the situation in Karachi. Is that too much to ask?

Final Update (21:15): Things have calmed down but everyone's feeling quite tense. Sherry Rehman finally managed to mention Karachi and blamed the violence on 'elements' that opposed the politics of reconciliation and did not want Pakistan to prosper. Farooq Sattar held a press conference (in front of a gangster Altaf Bhai portrait) and blamed the violence on 'elements' that opposed the politics of reconciliation and did not want Pakistan to prosper. (How long before this is pinned on RAW?) There has been a major reshuffle of the Karachi Police. DIG Traffic is now DIG West, DIG West is now DIG East, etc, etc.

There is an indication that 'terror tactics' adopted to frighten Karachiites have gotten much more intense. In days of yore 'indiscriminate firing' alluded to havai fire (aerial fire) but today many of the shots were aimed straight at people. I'm told by my mother that the same has been happening in the city over the past few days; she cited two incidents one of a woman who was injured by unknown gunmen at Khadda Market and another incident of the owner of a Subway franchise who was shot in the leg by random guys who were just passing-by. (I cannot verify these two stories and these could very well be urban myths.)

The most harrowing tale from today was the death of 5 people in the building housing several law offices that was set ablaze in the evening. The people setting the offices on fire upon leaving the building pad locked the main door to ensure that no one would escape. This is just sick.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

indiscriminate firing? :( poor people

naqiya said...

be safe saksaq

Anonymous said...

Anger, however expressed, is always directed towards the very top. Sometimes it is not safe or easy to direct it where it belongs so the anger gets displaced and the wrong people suffer.

This is all about Musharraf and the marching orders he takes from the US.

Ahsan said...

anon358:

this has as much to with musharraf and the US as it does with my preference for Jet Sports over Cornettos.

Adeel said...

Man, I just wish Magneto would show up in Karachi and magnetic suck all guns from everyone and deposit them in the sun. ugh.

AKS said...

@ Adeel

I hear you man.

@ Anon

Seriously dude, after going through the day I just have no patience for 'America's responsible' bull shit. It's us. The Americans did not set fire to a building and lock the main door; it was Pakistanis (and no Musharraf wasn't there either).

Disclaimer: Random thought follows

I've finally started reading Freakonomics and there's a bit about the KKK not needing to be violent from 1890 onwards because of the fear White Supremacist had created by being violent earlier on. The MQM seems to still be in that early phase. The PPP never had to go through this phase because its constituent leaders had / have a great deal of fear-factor owing to a long and cherished history of violence and suppression.

DCPakMan said...

I clicking through links and ended up at this article.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008\04\09\story_9-4-2008_pg7_8

How exactly does an argument lead to 1500 people killing one man of a different religion over alleged blasphemy.

naqiya said...

@ anon/aks:

aks, i agree with you. for some reason we never say "yes, we have officially lost it" but play the blame game instead of taking responsibility. we blame the government, political parties, lack of education, india, america, and if we can find absolutely no one else, we blame jews (like with 9/11)...pretty fucking frustrating.

someone said "a revolution is brewing" to ahsan's post below. i think thats utter bullshit. if people can't take responsibility for their actions, cant understand why they are angry and who is to blame, they'll just continue with aimless aggression that doesnt get anyone anywhere.

a revolution is far far away...

Anonymous said...

the way it works in pakistan is that someone is always someone else's bitch. there's no legitimate authority around. in the end, the dude with the bigger guns wins out. it's a hobbesian world. pakistan is a confederation of thugs and slaves.

zeyd said...

All the political parties should merge into a single group called the JJJ (Junglee Jahil Jokers)

Back_to_The_Future said...

Karachites always ready to initiate violence.

Rabia said...

I thought that this was a pretty interesting post about what's going on.

Jizarah Javeria said...

I just lost my comment i just took 5 minutes to write...so this is just a test now...

Jizarah Javeria said...

I guess it works now, oops. Pls disregard previous post. I got my thoughts out so well in my previous post that got erased, so here goes again but more succinct. I was in Karachi the day Bhutto was assassinated. I hadn't been to Pak for 11 yrs. I live in the US now. So, when I read your post, I just wonder if it looks the country will ever become stable...it's quite frustrating.