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In response to Declan Walsh’s article on Karachi’s deadly divide – by Shaista Aazar

Sheen Alif is as an avid LUBP reader who has written this piece exclusively for LUBP. He maintains his own blog titled “Backbenches”.

I am writing this post after reading a recent article by Declan Walsh, the Guardian correspondent in Pakistan. In his article, Walsh talks about the ethnic divide in Karachi, but it seems his analysis is plaqued with the same ethno-focus ignoring other factors which is evident in Pakistani media.

In fact ethnic divide is a smoke screen obscuring various conflicting interests in Karachi. Cowasjee wrote an interesting series of articles in daily Dawn with the title similar to “We are owners of Karachi and we can sell it.”

As we say in Urdu, “Iss Hammam Mey sab Nangey Hein”, all the parties are involved in this dirty game of grabbing the expensive commercial lands in the most preferred residential areas of Karachi. For example, North Nazimabad, Gulshan as well as the newly discovered areas of interest adjacent to the Northern Bypass, Baldia, Orangi and Gadap Town near the Balochistan border.

The divide in Karachi is not only vertical. It is horizontal too on the basis of sectarian affiliations. As the area mostly hit in the recent spate of sectarian killing, i.e mostly Shias, are Rizwia Society. Nazimabad, Sakhi Hasan, Nagan Chowrangi and New Karachi. And all these areas are mostly of our Urdu speaking or Mohajir community. The sectarian killers in these areas appear on motorbikes, do their job, and disappear in minutes.

The banned outfits may find their recruits and devoted members in Katchi Abadis (slums), but their offices are located in posh residential or commercial areas.

For example,

Sipah-e-Sahaba’s (code names: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or Ahle-Sunnat wal Jamaat) has its headquarters in in Nagan Chowrangi;

Hakatul-Mujahideen’s (HuM) headquarter and recruiting office for the state sponsored Afghan jihad is in Haroonabad, Mustafa Masjid near the factory of Altaf Shakoor of Pasban.

Jaish-e-Muhammad’s (JeM) office is in Hyderi, Batha Masjid, and

The Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT) office is in near Gulshan Chowrangi, Yaqoobia Masjid.

So ignoring these factors and keeping them outside the bloodiest game provides a partial picture of what is happening in Karachi.

Another factor which is not much highlighted is the underworld wars, as most prominent figures of the underworld as Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon, Shoaib Khan, Khalid Shahenshah and Haji Ibraheem aka Bhulu were involved in running their rackets, businesses, gangs and were residing in Karachi.

Three of the main characters, i.e., Khalid Shahenshah,  Shoaib Khan and Bhulu in Karachi were killed and replaced by others from the same city though not came to prominence yet.

Like other analysts and reporters, Declan Walsh has based his report on perception and word of mouth, not on facts. He said the PPP stronghold is in Sindhi and Balochi communities, but he forgot to mention that PPP has its popularity and vote bank in almost all elasticities as Mohajirs, Biharis, Pashtuns, Punjabis, Hindko speaking are PPP supporters and voters as the PPP MNA Qadir Patel and MPAs Nadim Bhutto, and Akhtar Jadoon, a Pashtun, won from Baldia/Kimari constituencies having majority of other ethnic groups rather than Sindhis/Balochis.

While reporters such as Walsh have their main sources of information in the MQM and other political parties, they may also care to visit the PPP offices, instead of relying on the information provided by the so called Aman Committees, the MQM wallahs and their pseudo-liberal agents.

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Shaista Aazar

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