Original Articles

Metro Netherworld: A Comment on Karachi – by Rashed Aurakzai


Ludwig von Mises, a leading laissez-faire economist of the twentieth century, wrote that intellectuals shape and form public thought, not the masses.

2800 killings in past eighteen months in Karachi haven’t awoken our intellectuals, Human Rights Groups, Civil Society or Media. They only  cherry-pick issues that suits their airs. To top it all, the ‘free media’ has totally mystified the brazen audacity and terrorism of the city’s dominant political force, specially the news channels where managements are either terrified or overwhelmed by the netherworld’s supporters. Geo TV reporter, Wali Babur’s murder is a Case Study.

Doctors and reporters are supposed to be sans frontiers but in recent shooting the former community at a local hospital refused treating ethnic Pakhtoon victims and the latter kept parroting only Kati Pahari while other parts of Karachi were burning. Even Dawn and Express Groups painted the events differently by inventing  parallel theories of Taliban and Armed Gangs.

Let’s analyze the flawed arguments which blanket criminality of the so called ‘Middle Class Force’ the MQM.  Of all the  ‘Target Killings’,  90% were ethnic Pakhtoon yet it isn’t called genocide.  Of these 90% more than 95% had nothing to do with Armed Gangs or ANP but were killed for swelling the  Metro demographics.  The fact that Karachi harbors more Pakhtoons than Kabul, Kandahar, Quetta or Peshawar is quoted as regret by ‘intelligentsia forgetting that the ‘dominant majority’ was zero percent of the city before Partition. At least 100 years before that exodus, Pakhtoon’s presence in the port is traced.

Militarized and centralized Paksitan has left nothing for Pakhtoons in their lands to survive on.  Besides being from minority province, their land has been rented to foreign powers for war games, for the last three decades, obliterating the indigenous social fabric, weaponizing the belt heavily, cultivating religious extremism  and overburdening  its economy by refugees’ influx. In short the State of Pakistan viz-a-viz the Military has manipulated, maimed and maligned the ethnicity directly or through it’s Frankenstein monsters, be it the Taliban or the MQM. Like LeT, LeJ, SSP or TTP; our military’s backing of the ‘Literate’ goons for the last three decades have mutated them into Gods of  the Metropolitan.

The most pathetic argument used to massage public opinion is that ‘It’s  their  fight for the local bodies.’ Does democratic struggle means ‘local bodies’ over ‘dead bodies’?  Abbas, a social commentator from Karachi puts it in these words. ” Also, the emerging narrative is that the PPP scuttled the utopic local bodies government system which was the sole preserve for MQM. The local body system in effect separated Karachi from Sindh and gave  it a disproportionate share of the revenue. Let us not forget that it is Sindhi, KP and Punjabi produce and Balochi minerals transported by Pushtuns that is an essential revenue driver for Karachi Port”,

“PPP and ANP have a dismal record in providing services to Karachi and other than the ethnic bogey, have no policies to solve the problems of Karachi. Karachi has made a bargain with MQM and that bargain is that MQM is thuggish party but it also delivers! MQM is a thuggish party but it also delivers’’ said Feroz Rafi Khan, a Pakistani Canadian intellectual.  Abbas continues….

“The local bodies allowed the MQM carte blanche to develop a few areas at the expense of the rest of Karachi and the rest of Sindh. Also, the very same urban chatterati that goes into paroxysms about PPP corruption and ANP medievalism completely ignores how Mustafa Kamal and his gang made billions in kickbacks from constructing a few flyers and bridges in the better areas of Karachi while neglecting PPP and ANP areas. The local bodies in effect created a parallel system and allowed Karachi to link up with the Center while separating from the rest of Sindh.”

Be it Lawyers Movement, a road accident, un-happiness with Islamabad, a blast in a religious procession, PPP minister’s remarks or milking of the coalition, MQM’s strategy is one and the same, Kill Pakhtoon and burn their  livelihood. The only difference is that we are not allowed to call it Pakhtoon Hunt. In the very heart of an international city, Ethnic Pakhtoon is persona no grata in MQM’s strongholds. “We didn’t see a single Pathan dry fruit seller the whole winter in Gulistan e Jauhar” says my Mohajir Flat mate from Karachi.

‘’MQM is a threat to status quo’’. Gimme a break! A produce of the same womb that bore the Taliban and religious fanatics could not make it outside Karachi and Hyderabad in the past three decades and suddenly it is viewed as harbinger of change.

“Political power by definition is the ability to make others do what they normally would not do.” Says Feroz Khan and I agree except when it is done at gun point. It is this definition where Mutaheda fails to qualify as political power. Now that Zardari-Gillani Government; to keep itself to power, agreed to MQM demands, the city returns to calm. A simple question would be that if a single hush from London can stop the civil war, how not that a wink from the same Don didn’t started it.

As I end up this article the news of 31 fresh killings, including a PPP MP, reach me. This time its Lyari and Balochs under attack. It’s premature to say anything about it but Mr. Mehmood Khan Achakzai speech in NA on May12,2007 incident comes to my mind. He said that if murderers of 42 innocent protestors were not brought to justice, Karachi would soon be ruled by Lebanon styled militias. Here we are and have nothing more or less. They could neither live peacefully with Hindus in united India nor have learnt to live in harmony with their fellow Muslims in their new project. What are we suppose to say.

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  • I think at-least try to get some factual.. Just dont pick the pen & start writing. Crap! Just for example please correct your information those 42 or 48 killed in May 12, 30 were Mohajirs, while 6 were Pashtuns while rest were of various ethnicity… & all those people were supporters of all or non of political parties…

  • Indeed Tatom. Kill and then wrap them in your flag.And I didn’t claim they were all Pakhtoons but innocent protesters out to rally for unlawfully removed CJP. By the way whose mob was it the same year in Karachi Civil Courts terrorizing the judiciary when the same case was being heard?

  • tatom, correct your data about 12th may, most killed were pashtuns. Even the MQM Activists were from PPOC, a pashtun faction within MQM.

    But they were killed by MQM Itself as its clear from the evidence when the same day three pashtuns from MQM were shot, two were killed and one injured was picked by the Edhi ambulance. the injured person can be an evidence against their barbarism, so the ambulance was pursued by the killers and the injured activist along with the ambulance driver was killed and the van burnt.

    Check newspapers and dont distort facts

  • “They could neither live peacefully with Hindus in united India nor have learnt to live in harmony with their fellow Muslims in their new project. What are we suppose to say.”

    Is this a comment on MQM or Muhajirs? Clearly against Muhajirs, and so may I ask who else in Pakistan is living peacefully and in harmony, Sindhis? Punjabis? Pushtoons? Balochs? Saraikis? Gilgittis? any without feuds and tensions? without a wish or demand for rights? without contradictions?

    What is different between them and Muhajirs is that Muhajirs are not considered sons of soil, they do not have racial and tribal relationship which is the very core of Pakistani society, a society which is feudal in its fabric, Muhajirs are the biggest challenge and a problem.

    This very narrative and psychology behind is the biggest pillar of support for MQM. MQM was produced by the same who produced all other evils in Pakistan; to classify MQM and Muhajirs one and same is the biggest mistake which goes to the advantage of MQM and its real benefactors.

    An analyst should have courage to analyze the situation unbiasedly, Karachi being a metropolitan is a lucrative market for criminal gangs and mafias, and people from all ethnicities are part of these mafias, it is weakness of political parties including PPP, ANP, MQM, JUI, PPI and others that they support and get support from these very criminals. It is not just that ‘need’ of the establishment which keeps MQM on loose, but the ‘need’ of support of all these political stakeholders in Karachi which is keeping a blind eye towards criminals in their own lines.

    These criminals are involved in Drugs, Land grabbing, Distortion, Ransom, Roberies and all other crimes and get support in political cadres. In return they work for their parties in time of need, and that is where motive of violence is distorted. Same goons get administrative support as well because of their political links.

    Muhajirs just like all other residents of Karachi are hostage, but our intelligentsia is either mum or too much biased and not ready at all to have a positive opinion.

  • Indeed Naveed: Everyone is mafia and gang in Karachi except MQM. And yes tens are killed in ethnic wars in KP, Panjab, Interior Sindh, GB and Balochistan. Karchiwala Baboos still think Pakistan outside Karachi is Ramgarh under Feudal Gabar , Thakkurs and chaudris.

  • Satire and humor are good where they apply but cannot be an alternate to discourse based on rationality.
    I did not say nowhere that “Everyone is mafia and gang in Karachi except MQM”.
    I did not say that “Karchiwala Baboos still think Pakistan outside Karachi is Ramgarh under Feudal Gabar , Thakkurs and chaudris.”

    Do not be carried away in your perceptions.

    Pakistan is dominated by feudal and if you can give a discourse against that statement I would really appreciate it, but ridicule as I said is not always a good alternate but comes in when there is no other way.

  • No where in Pakistan we have same demography as in Karachi, ethnic clashes and violence in metropolitan cities are multi-faced and multi dimensional and we must try to analyze all forces involved behind the scene. Without having this approach we will never reach a solution.

    Secondly Muhajirs and MQM are not synonym, one must decide clearly if it is MQM they are against or Muhajirs, both choices lead to different directions.

    Karachi is not an isolated disconnected entity, but it is part of Pakistan and so politics in Pakistan affects Karachi, events in Pakistan affect Karachi, policies carried out by establishment and government of Pakistan affect Karachi.

    Muhajirs are citizens of Pakistan as much as any one else, and there are many other groups struggling for rights, most of issues we face today are due to strong centralization and policies of protecting the status quo.

    We may also look at the social and communal outlook of most ethnic groups in Pakistan, they are isolated from each other and carry out with same ethos wherever they go. Kinship, nepotism, biases are in all ethnic groups and so protection of unethical and criminal activities under prejudices is a norm.

    MQM by no means is a party to be acclaimed based on liberal, democratic, ethical principles, but they have support, not only from establishment but from other democratic parties and most of all from people. Why? because of the fact that no one really seeks harmony and peace, no one really seeks equal rights, no one really seeks democracy.

    A murder is a murder, an innocent victim is an innocent victim, a murderer is a murderer; when will we learn not to give them labels? by giving them labels we encourage people to take sides and that results in support of murderers. Without that courage no solution is possible.

    Why Muslims in India supported partition and Pakistan movement is not that simple that they were not able to live in peace with Hindus in united India; neither these were only the Muslims of minority provinces which supported partition.


  • http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=8253&Cat=13

    “The MQM accusations against the FIA and Intelligence Bureau, both organisations totally under the control of President Asif Ali Zardari, that the British government had been fed with unfounded reports against the MQM, has exposed a new dimension of PPP-MQM relations and it is now obvious that the PPP has been using the UK government to pressurise Altaf Hussain to fall in line.

    These accusations, seen in the context of the statement of Altaf Hussain some days ago asking Karachiites to stock up rations for 30 days, which was followed immediately by intervention of the London government, including a call from the UK foreign secretary to MQM’s governor of Sindh, explain why the MQM chief suddenly started speaking English to apologise for his call and tried to control the damage caused by his remarks.”

  • Naveed: Charbzabani se gunaah nahin chHutay. Matlab ki baat karo. Alfaz se mat khelo.

  • Karachi starts burning on a single call from London and becomes peaceful as well on the same mouth’s call. If they want to store ration for a month then they are confidant to fight a civil war for month which means they have ample ammunition at hand. This is what Wikileaks revealed last year.

    Stop Gerrymandering and THappa voting and see how deep is MQM in Karachi Waters. It has to make a choice between politics or terrorism.

    Don’t expect us to believe your myths.

  • Rashid, you have many assumptions, like you believe I am a supporter of MQM, I do not also know if you have read what I wrote, and where I did ‘charb Zabani’, I have given reasons against your discourse, you may or may not debate against them, but do not get personal or do not write.

    My request to you, do not consider MQM and Muhajirs one and same, and you are good to go.

    I do agree with most of points you raised against MQM. But I will never agree with anything against Muhajirs. This is not ‘charb zabani’ but ‘sachai’.

    I would also emphasize that MQM is not alone and all stake holders including all other political parties are responsible for bloodshed and mayhem. They all support criminal elements one way or another and they also keep criminal silent if blood shed is done by their allies.

  • A great effort Rashed A. Bhai.
    Interesting: “They could neither live peacefully with Hindus in united India nor have learnt to live in harmony with their fellow Muslims in their new project. What are we suppose to say.”

  • my question is:
    if i born in pakistan, m i pakistani or a muhajir pushto punjabi sindhi or other?

    Treat all equally n kill the evil politicians whether belonging 2 any party. Bhai marna hai to aik dosray k party leaderz ko maro. Aik rikshaw wala, aik mochi, aik aam insan ko q mar rahay ho?

  • Rashed, thanks for writing this. Most Karachiites don’t vote for MQM but the later has perfected the art of rigging elections. My grand-parent’s generation came from UP but my father’s side has been mostly PPP and my mother’s side were NAP. No party is blameless now but clearly MQM is the chief instigator of violence and the highest victims are non-MQM. We are all frustated in Karachi but many of us are baffled by the media; they spend hours critisizing Rehman Malik for his stupid statements but not even one sentence for that fascist thug, Altaf Hussain. Where is the balance. MQM supporters are the most brainwashed and their tendency to exaggerate is unparalleled. To this day, MQM supporters will tell you how Pushtuns murdered 15,000 in the 1984 riots. You ask them for verification and they will switch the topic.

  • Naveed, I didn’t said they were one and the same but the fact will remain that MQM thrives on ethnic politics and is predominantly infested with immigrants, though born in Pakistan, yet call themselves Mohajirs.

    Some of finest Pakistanis gentry are immigrants. It’s not uncommon to find Severe Critic of MQM among Urdu Speaking community in Karachi. We love them and they are part and parcel of our lives.

    I am talking about the Underworld. Yes criminals are now from PPP, ANP too but who taught them?

    My apologies to Urdu Speaking community if any line has wrongly being construed as against them.

  • Thank you very much Rashid, I do really feel for every drop of blood wasted by brutal barbarians. Innocent children, men and women, it does not really matter what is their ethnicity, no one has any right to harm a human being.
    MQM and its ideology is contradicting, but they gain sympathies because of ignoring or arrogant behavior and lack of conciliatory approach as well as mistrust amongst communities that has developed since start because of undemocratic, centralized approach of the rulers and establishment.
    Reconciliation, and a united class struggle may be the solution, but over the years many misconceptions have developed or intriduced deliberately and Pakistanis have generally become an ignorant lot. It is not easy to see through this dark foggy screen we have placed in front of us.

  • Dear Rashid and Naveed

    Thanks for conciliatory approach of you both and understanding at the end, as its the way to indulge in a discussion but reach to some common points.

    The issue of ethnic conflict and the violence added to it by all the elements is very complex and is rooted in the identity crisis, the centralised approach towards conflicting issues which are emphasied and endorsed to prevent the rise of class based politics.

    In this environment its almost impossible to pen an objective analyses as everyone is in one or the other way himself is a victim to this all.

    As I earlier mentioned in my facebook status update that from Jamrud suicide blast to ethnic Violence in Karachi its has distorted narratives and failure of religious discourses in common.

  • Its also the loss of common culture. The mohajir elite stabbed its own (very unequal and elitist, but rather sophisticated) North Indian Urdu culture in the heart for the sake of bossing around a new country. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. It was about this culture that Allama Lahori should actually have said “yeh tehzeeb aap apney khanjar sey khud kashi karey gi…”.
    To quote Jaun Elya:
    Hum hain ruswa kun e Dilli o Luckhnow, apni kya zindagi, apni kya abroo, Meer Dilli sey nikley, gaey Lucknow, tum khaan jao gey, hum khaan jaain gey..
    The above is not a systematic and well thought out comment…more like random thoughts that fly through my head when Karachi comes up.thoughts like these: 18 million people can live in close proximity in peace only if there is some over-arching common culture that unites them…or a colonial administration that enforces the rules for everyone. Pakistan was created by the North Indian Muslim elite, who assumed that their own culture would be the default culture of this new state..that it would be transported from Delhi and Lucknow intact to whatever place they were now going to rule and the locals would be forever grateful. It didnt work out that way. More than half the grateful locals thought they had a pretty good culture of their own and left the experiment 40 years ago. The rest are united by more practical links and can actually run one country together someday, but have yet to agree on what the common basis for that is going to be. The lowest common denominator is Sunni Islam, but there are some problems with true believers. Meanwhile Karachi burns on. A more competent administration could, in theory, get the city under control. But what will be the legitimizing principles of that administration? The karma of British rule is fading and that administration and its standards are almost dead and gone (though the forms are still there). ..and so on. Various thoughts like these intersected with the memory of one of Jaun Elya’s ghazals and led to that comment. So i guess the core of that comment (“chickens are coming home to roost”) reflects a vague feeling that partition is coming home to roost, and more than one literary figure (from Manto to Elya) had premonitions of disasters to come…just to be clear, I do not believe that partition should (or even could) be “reversed”. That train has left the station. But I do think that the ideology and mythology of partition will have to be de-emphasized and a more “normal” basis for coexistence will have to be found…one that recognized all the nationalities within Pakistan and regards their union as a mutually beneficial arrangement, not the fulfilment of some poorly thought out “dream”.
    Incidentally, the first verse of that ghazal is: Hai bikharney ko yeh mefil e rang o boo, tum kahan jao gey, hum kahan jaen gey; her taraf ho rahi hai yehi guftagoo, tum kahan jao gey, hum kahan jaen gey.

  • It would probably not be an accurate presentation of facts that Pakistan was created by elites of North India. It is not that simple, and causes misconceptions. Wont Pakistan movement was supported by musalaman feudals of India? break up of unionists in Punjab is an example how feudals made and broke alliances in order to safegaurd their interests. Fact remains that they are still dominant and can go to any length to safe their status even if breakup of Pakistan or promotion of Islamic fundamentalism or pseudo nationalism as far as it gives them the lease their rotten and expired system badly needs. To say that people of present day Pakistan had no role in creation of Pakistan is naive, that is what the notion that nothern Indian muslims create Pakistan implies.
    No one in power corridors since inception of Pakistan is sincere with the people, the people who belong to lower classes, the sons and daughters of this land who still awaits freedom. Middle class has been used as a proxy by elites, and that is true for north Indian muslims’ salaried class as wel. Middle class as a whole needs to rearticulate itself and align with progressive democratic forces. They may need to redefine the nationalism, and concentrate more on common grounds. In global economy, as a work force they need to work in industries, commerce and services sectors where it is does not matter if they are Pushtoons, or Sindhis or whatever. It is good and necessary to be proud of who you are, but that demands appreciation of others as well of what they are. Middle class has responsibility to break traditional chains of biases, ethnicity and kinship and see themselves in 2000s where world has totally different challenges and opurtunities. They need to awake the leadership which is still living in 50s. Then they should align themselves with both extremes in classes, we need to promote our labor and agriculture workforce, without them no progress is possible and we need to promote our industry as well, so we need enterpreneurs.
    Problem in Karachi is that the laborers, workers and small traders are fighting a fight which is not theirs but of criminal mafias for land grabbing, distortion, ransom etc. underground is a market sized in billions. This market has political backing for several reasons, for example to fund adventures in name of ethnicity and religion. No one in media asks why various leaders in MQM, who once belonged to middle class and still have their 120 t0 200 yards ancestral homes in middle class localities, why and how they now run businesses and own properties, same goes for leadership of many other parties in Karachi. Our media is partner in crime and so is our middle class (irrespective of its ethnic background). Middle class is growing in Pakistan and they have a responsibility which they must realize, venom of separation is promoted by them (and taken advantaged by the elites and establishment), so the sweet songs of unification must come from them as well.
    In short without honesty and retinking our beliefs, no solution is possible. If we are honest we wont need to change our history but future.

    P.S> Intelegentsia has taken refuge in NGOs as well, which are funded mostly by different entities in foreign. That way they can remain liberal, earn money, and satisfy their concious; they must reconsider how a change is possible without having roots in people, without a political struggle and power to legislate, they have left ground for goons and ill informed, short sighted duffers to take leadership responsibility, and then they cry foul. Pressure groups in democracy are a reality but alongside a political struggle, not without it.

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