Karachi – what I have seen on 30th Nov 2008!!!
by Nadia Khan,
The writer can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
It was 30th Nov 2008 and I was standing at Karachi’s most famous Suhrab Goth (bus stop) area with my Pakistani colleague. She was clad in a black veil (Burqa) with only two-eyes opened and fully ready to capture the events. Too few buses were seen coming on the other side of the road from Hyderabad. I was told that normally this place is a bus stop junction packed with many buses & tourists visiting interior Sindh or traveling to Punjab or NWFP. This was my last day in Karachi as I was leaving tomorrow. We two were finding the traces of retaliation, if any, for recent acts of terrorism in Karachi after Mumbai hotels attacks.
Our main task was to identify Karachi carnage reasons, as why in such a short notice, city was set on fire, 44 killed, soon after Mumbai Taj & Trident attacks; the theory of revenge? If so, then cross-border Indian agents were so quick in delivering the equal response immediately. If not, then who they are & their motive is yet to established!
Whole environment was scary, any moment we could be caught under fire as last two days the city was burning like a wood with 38 killed so far, score of houses or shops or public transport burnt as officially notified to press. The death toll increased later.
I have asked my Pathan driver to park our car nearby and join us. A tea maker looked at us and we popped into his small tea shop (chabRee hotel). “From where you are coming & where are you heading?” He inquired. “No where, just looking for Edhi Centre!”I tried to answer. He wasn’t satisfied, as his eyes were telling that we might be some terrorist and willing to perform some evil-actions. “Are you Pathan?”I asked, “Yes” he nodded and served tea to us. After exchanging few Urdu words, he appeared convinced that we are not mere strangers but looking for Edhi home.
I continued the conversation, “what’s happening here in the city?” as I wanted to know the common man perception. He looked into my eyes, I felt shy, but he continued to do so and said, “all this is due to an ethnic group, they are treating Pakhtuns as Talibaans and opposing us every where.”
But “Why, what’s the reasons behind it. The two communities are surviving here since 1985, probably the whole public transport is in the hands of Pakthuns, correct, so why they want you to be out now?” I inquired.
He said “No idea, you know what’s happening in NWFP – an operation is being done and many of our friends & relatives are keep coming to Karachi for survival.”
“It looks like that they feel that after some time their foot-hold in various districts of Karachi will be lost, so they are trying to regain their lost power.” He added.
Suddenly we heard the firing and came out of the shop protecting ourselves as these sniper bullets could target us while sitting in a roadside tea shop. We could see the gun noses from the windows of a white car. Pathan tea maker informed me that each bullet is costing Pak Rs 10, so I don’t know who is investing so much money for such purchases and firing, I added, “for just 4 days.” Meanwhile the car sped away quickly after couple of bursts. Whole bus stop was showing dried as whosoever there, ran away for life. This was the target of terrorists to spread terror, scare as much as they can, across the city and they were successful!
With a short pause, we decided to move onto a road that is heading towards Nagan Chowrangi. It wasn’t a pleasure drive though the road was showing the emptiness during the days of 1986 when curfew was the main solution. After driving for few kilometers we were hearing the firing again, probably from the round about, the left of it heads towards Azizabad. That wasn’t our way, so we continued to head towards Nagan.
Streets were empty, we could see few heads out of various flats’ windows, near Sagheer centre, gazing out. Karachi was on scare & life was on hold!
Now our target was to speak with few common Muhajirs to know the other side of the story. We started moving towards Al Noor society – a main road heading towards Nagan Chowrangi, North Karachi. Nearby we found a small roadside hotel but no one was there. We came down and posed ourselves looking for help. I purposely asked my driver to stay away from us but keep close eye, may be we need some desperate help. Meanwhile, we two were standing near hotel, couple of young guys came to us inquiring that, “Baji, keya app ko maddadd ke zarourat hay?”(Sister! are you looking for help). I can see the guns under their black-jackets. I said, “no I am coming from Gulshan-e-Iqbal and wanted to go to North Nazimabad. I just heard firing and became scared, so waiting here till firing gets over.” Probably my reply convinced them and one of them came forward & asked, “Would you mind if we could guide you towards your home.” Looking at their response, I wanted to speak
more. I said, “Yes why not and thanks!”
“What’s going on here, who is behind this firing?” I posed myself astonished pretending as I have no sense of local politics. The replies were of great interest. “Baji! these Pathans are about to attack our areas, so we are protecting ourselves.” “Perhaps with these guns” I completed their incomplete conversation.
“But for what, will they attack you?” I needed more insight of the subject, which was turning out to be of great sense. “We don’t know!”I got the reply. “So you are holding these weapons for something you don’t know the root cause.” I added. “We were asked to do so.” The tallest among all of them had replied.
This would be really tragic if I don’t add that such young guys have treated myself with great pride & respect, no matter they were asked to do something wrong!
So I can say – two communities are at the verge of physical fight, many had lost their lives but the fact is that no one knows the real cause of this quarrel. Is there any “hidden enemy”who had triggered both!
This was the main conflict between – Muhajir & Pathans. Isn’t it, their main city leaders were kept on saying that our activists are not provoking this quarrel. Then, who they are!!! Unknown angels from neighboring country, entered in Karachi so quickly, and folded the whole city hostage for 3 or 4 days. Local administration has to answer this!
Before few meters from Nagan, a Police mobile was parked, totally ignorant about the recent firing sounds, four policemen were out and two were searching the poor motorcyclists for ‘heavy weapons’, probably rocket-launchers. They might have thought that terrorist could move such a weapon from one place to another over motorcycles. So each one was standing by holding his hands up and waiting for his turn to be checked for body and bike papers!
There were so many opinions & theories being floated for Karachi unrest but my mind was on another thought-process, is it the genuine reason or someone miles away from here has ordered the local activists to keep the city engaged through Talibaan propaganda, firing, looting, and killing. Probably the ground was being prepared since last couple of months for Mumbai carnage & he has been asked to do so over such a short notice! If so then this could lead to a bigger canvas conspiracy sandwiching Pakistan from both ends. If not then what’s the motive to trigger the city at this point of time when unity is needed!
God knows the real truth, we could only collect bits & pieces to form the extent of real portrait!
Source: Posted by: Nadia Khan, email@example.com on Saturday, December 6, 2008 8:04:01 AM at [firstname.lastname@example.org] Karachi – what I have seen on 30th Nov 2008!!!