The recent targeted killings — the latest of which resulted in the death of MQM MPA Raza Haider on Monday — in Karachi are being linked to various flashpoints that have left two major parties at loggerheads.
The theory that many of the killings are based on political rivalries is lent credence by the fact that the police have registered cases against at least 10 political activists from various parties, who are suspected of having been involved in the violence. Similarly, of the 40 people who died in July in what appeared to be targeted killings, the overwhelming majority were affiliated with different political parties. Yet this must not blind us to the fact that the cycles of violence the city experiences at different times can have other motivations as well that are not immediately related to political preferences. The city is, after all, familiar with ethnic and sectarian killings, gang warfare in areas such as Lyari and now Dalmia, and murders over land-grabbing and real estate disputes in expansion areas in particular, such as Malir and Surjani Town. Often, the same communities that constitute the vote bank of leading political parties are accused of being involved, showing how violence in Karachi is multi-layered.
More than a demonstration of police failure, the violence represents the failure of the leaderships of major political parties, like the MQM and the ANP, to resolve their differences. Furthermore, putting a stop to the killings is the responsibility of the provincial government, which comprises the very parties whose workers are suspected of being involved in the violence. This is a serious indictment on the parties’ claim to prioritise the city’s welfare. If they are unable to bring the cycle of killings and reprisal attacks — and the MPA’s death has aggravated matters — to an end, despite having the weight of the provincial government’s law-enforcement machinery behind them, then the implication is that they are involved by either design or omission. As things stand, it appears that no need is being felt to hold party members in the provincial government accountable or take to task a provincial government that has failed to control the situation.