Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Taliban In Karachi

I have always viewed the 'Taliban in Karachi' stories with a great deal of cynicism. I still feel that the MQM is using them as political cover to strengthen their base - I'm not saying the threat to parts of Pakistan from the Taliban isn't real, but that Karachi isn't one of those places. But perhaps I've been unfair in the past because I can no longer deny that there is some truth to these stories.

I just finished a conversation with a peon Jawaid at the office who had come to ask us (we were having a partners meeting) if we had any contacts in the MQM and the media. Jawaid is a Christian and lives in a predominantly Christian neighbourhood in Surjani Town and apparently last night a few armed, Pashtun men broke into their small local church, vandalised it and chalked Quranic text on the walls. They then informed the people of the area that they had thirty days to convert to Islam.

This is not the first incident of its kind that I've heard of, but the first where a direct witness has come forth.

A couple of weeks ago my brother told me that his former math teacher, Sir Victor, and his entire family suddenly left the country and sought asylum in Australia (or Canada, I can't remember) after armed men gave them three options by armed men: convert, leave or die. Sir Victor's family had lived in Pakistan since before partition, they've all left.

Jawaid is a poor man and lives in a poor neighbourhood in Surjani Town. Victor wasn't a poor man (taught at a top Karachi school, gave tuitions) and lived in a middle class neighbourhood in Saddar. Victor could leave. Javaid can't.


Dawn and The News report the same incident today (can't find the Dawn link on their website), however as per their reports violence erupted after Taliban Zindabad had been chalked on the church's outer wall. There was no mention of the church being ransacked or the area residents being told to convert. So, maybe Jawaid was exaggerating, or maybe the papers are playing it safe. No matter though, there's no denying that there's added pressure on minorities.


Asfandyar said...

A defeatist part of me just seems to accept that we've lost our country - and that instances like this are not worthy of an arched eyebrow or astonishment.

adeel said...

You might recall a couple of weeks ago AKS that I had only one word to describe my feelings after visiting khi....despondent. A surprising number of people, lower and middle class, want this change in hope of a less corrupt govt, quick justice, and return to morality. They never think through the other implications so when i ask them hey your daughters you send to school so proudly, they'll be at home with you. that cable you love watching undersiege on, gone. your wife you send with the driver to get groceries and keep the house running, ditto. it doesnt sink in.

foolsparadise said...

This is a very interesting analysis "Profiling Taliban"

Might answer some of your questions.

Anonymous said...

This really saddens me. I've worked with various companies over the past 20+ years importing textiles from Pakistan for major retailers here in the USA. Pakistan textile exports in 2007 were valued at 11.8 billion dollars of the almost 19 billion in total exports. last year a well known retailer made the decision they will no longer accept made in Pakistan apparel and home textiles so we've had to place our orders for them elsewhere. We have other major retailers voicing their concerns about the image of Pakistan as well as the fear of the talibanization of Pakistan. Pakistan is a very poor country overall in regard to the general population, imagine the masive job loss and the spiral into deeper poverty should more major retailers take this action. I simply can't fathom how the people can let this happen. of course, you too can say the same for us during the Bush administration. and yes, look at what came of that mess that we the people could not stop and yes in some ways we the people allowed it to happen. Somehow the Pakistan government needs to understand the reprecussions of these backwards steps that are being taken.

MK said...

I wonder how long it'll take for the middle and upper classes to wake up from their complacency and realize it's only a matter of time till they're affected by this madness, too.

foolsparadise said...

Fall of Buner district is very very very scary, where the fuck is the Pakistani "GREAT ARMED FORCES", who boasts itself the "Institution who can deliver".
I just saw a few news reports on TV, which says they are even approaching towards Islamabad, and are just 60 miles away from it. (courtesy CNN)

Kalsoom said...

You might want to watch Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy's Children of the Taliban, the PBS documentary on Frontline/World - she discusses the influence of Taliban in Karachi, particularly in the poorest slums. You can access the doc on my blog or just google it, it's really disturbing.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Any truth to this:

Taliban Executes Two Christians in Karachi, Pakistan