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Editorial : THE KILLING FIELDS OF KARACHI

THE KILLING FIELDS OF KARACHI

On 30 July 2011, all the political parties in Karachi organized a “Peace Walk” in the posh area of Clifton to register their determination to bring peace to Karachi which is in the grip of an extraordinary spate of killing, looting and arson for the past month. This provided a much needed comic relief to the people of Karachi.  Where else could you find peace in Karachi but in the Clifton and Defense, where one could avail of the opportunity to make a statement, not only for peace in Karachi, but also for the latest in designer clothes and accessories. This is truly killing two birds with one stone.

The plethora of platitudes from the podium, however, made no dent in the deplorable situation, the very next day the casualty figures were as many as the previous day. It is an official estimation that there were 318 deaths in the month of July alone, with more than a 100 deaths in Orangi alone, during just four days, The Casualty figures for Karachi from January 1- 2011 to July 31- 2011 are estimated to be 1241. Though by no means negligible, these figures do not represent the actual loss of life correctly; given the common man’s aversion to being involved in any dealings with the police, it is quite certain that the casualty figures are much more than the official figures. Then there is the huge loss of property, due to arson and looting. From the media coverage of these incidents one can see that the majority of the affected people are from the  lower middle class and the working class. What treasures these poor people must have been hoarding is anybody’s guess. Then again there is the putative economic loss due to the disruption in economic activity, which is by no means a small one. Putting together all these factors, one can estimate the true modicum of the loss to society at large, as nothing if not crippling.

So, what is the reason behind this mindless carnage, and is there a way to stop this genocide? Why has the government failed, so far, in achieving any significant success in stopping this madness?

In Pakistan, unfortunately, when justice and political expediency are counter posed to one another, it is most often political expediency that wins out. Therefore all the political parties, and the government included, seem to be more interested in gaining political advantage than in protecting the life, property and honor of the citizens of Karachi. This is the essence of the problem. This is the only logic that can explain the repeated agreements between the political parties in Karachi and their breakdown within days, sometimes within hours. It also explains the inertia and indifference of the government. “Masterly Inactivity” as our former colonial masters the British would have said. Whatever the disturbing features of the present situation, and its aggravation on a daily basis, all the parties involved seem to be determined to settle the issue by force and fiat. Thus we see the charade of appeals, ministers rushing here and there a temporary truce and then the same horrendous bloodletting in another area of Karachi. What can be the outcome of this disastrous course of action is not beyond the imagination of any politically aware Pakistani citizen, the question is, are those at the helm of the affairs in the government and the various political parties in Pakistan also aware of it? This is a question that will be answered by their future course of action. The majority of the population of Karachi is at their mercy, in the killing fields of Karachi.

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