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While one agrees that military operation is not a solution for Karachi’s crisis, this issue is getting very serious and fast creating a situation where a number of political gains made in the last three years may be diluted significantly.
First, the latest round of violence that started around 17th or 18th August was initiated by the MQM by kidnapping 3 Baloch boys from Tariq Road and swnding their mutilated bodies the next day. The same day Waja Karim Dad (ex-MNA of PPP) was killed.
This started the most brutal and gruesome round of violence in the city. It transformed from targeted killing across parties and mafias to a virtual ethnic genocide.
MQM is unambiguously responsible for upping the ante, regardless of media projections to the contrary. This upping the ante then took the shape of the media chorus on military rule in Karachi.
The Baloch or others are by no means innocent but where did the escalation come from? I believe that MQM walking out on flimsy excuses two months ago points to a larger game.
Having said this, let us rewind back to that fateful evening in March 2008 when Asif Zardari went to Nine Zero and the graveyard of MQM shuhada. Most PPP supporters in Sindh as well as progressive elements in Karachi and Punjab were very critical of this move arguing that the MQM is a bunch of militants and rather than reconcile with them, they should be dealt with through state power. Otherwise, the argument was, they will destabilize this government and democracy itself through their politics of blackmailing.
My response then was that good or bad, MQM represents the majority in Karachi and Hyderabad and in a democratic transition they should be carried along. If we are willing to reconcile with PML N after a bitter history, why not them?
Events in the last 2 months in general and in the last week in particular, I am afraid, have demonstrated the critics of PPP reconciliation right. MQM does continue to use militancy as its primary political card. There can be no reconciliation with them without cleansing them of their militants and militant mode of politics.
PPP needs to get out of this reconciliation mode with the MQM as it did with PML N after being humiliated for 3 plus years.
PPP has a majority in the Sindh Assembly and rather than be apologetic, they should use it to do a proper operation which will entail going into MQM’s militant hideouts, including Pak Colony, Lalukhet, Nazimabad No. 2, and Azizabad if need be. This will undoubtedly cleanse Karachi. But President Zardari is constrained by the deep state and mufahimat (policy of reconciliation). Very unfortunate indeed!
Lyari has been subjected to operations and if needed another one shouild be done there. But if MQM is spared for whatever expedient reason, it will not only be a travesty and a major letdown of PPP supporters but will also contribute in PPP losing its govt in Sindh. This will undo most of the democratic gains made in the last 3 years.
No point hoping for a rapprochement with the MQM. It will not happen.
Here is an interesting and detailed article by Amir Mir on the Karachi situation.
When Amir Mir asks the question:
“Will the MQM’s rejoining the fold put an end to this uninterrupted spell of killings? If so, what does that say about the manner in which the MQM and the ruling PPP operate? The people of Karachi deserve to know the truth because they have seen too much death and destruction first-hand. There can be no mollycoddling out of fear or favor. There comes a time when facts have to be faced and that time is now.”
The answer is pretty clear. The MQM has been blackmailing the PPP and continues to undermine the government by destabilizing Karachi at the behest of the establishment. Current demographics of Karachi and urban Sindh are no longer in favour of MQM and more in favour of a multi-ethnic party like PPP which also has seat sharing arrangements with ANP.
The solution is to have an operation not only in Lyari but also in those areas where MQM’s proxy gangs are doing the violence.