Why Karachi bleeds

Q: What type of conflict is taking place in Karachi?

A: The classification is “Ethno-political” – ethnicity, identity, politics and crime are all in conflict with each other.

Q: Who are the primary actors in the conflict?

A: MQM, ANP and PPP.

Q: Who are the secondary actors in the conflict?

A: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), organised criminal gangs, sectarian entities and foreign intelligence agencies.

Q: What is at stake for Pakistan?

A: Karachi produces more than $40 billion worth of goods and services every year, close to 25 percent of Pakistan’s GDP. This translates into Rs10 billion a day every day of the year.

Q: What are the motivations of the primary actors in the conflict?

A: For the MQM, Karachi is the lone source of some two-dozen National Assembly seats and 51 Provincial Assembly seats. For the MQM Karachi enables the MQM to capture more than its fair share of clout in Islamabad as well as in Karachi. For the MQM, its entire electoral base is up in flames.

For the ANP, the party claims to represent some 25 percent of Karachi’s population but only has two seats in a 168-seat Sindh Assembly. For the ANP Karachi is a Rs10 billion pie in which it feels that the party is not getting its fair share.

For the PPP, Karachi only produces half-a-dozen seats of the 93 that the PPP won in Sindh. In essence, 95 percent of the PPP’s political stakes in Sindh are outside of Karachi. The PPP views the MQM-ANP bloodbath as being to the PPP’s political advantage.

For the TTP, Karachi is a godsend, a golden opportunity to squeeze Pakistan’s financial hub and create even more chaos, anarchy and discord. The TTP’s ultimate objective being not just the capture of Karachi but of the state itself.

For organised crime, sectarian outfits and foreign intelligence agencies Karachi has become an intersection where militant wings of political parties and organised criminal mafias meet and bleed each other.

Q: What is really driving the Karachi bloodshed?

A: Karachi is home to two things: an extremely dysfunctional state machinery and an extremely opportunistic political elite. To be sure, the interests of the masses and the interests of the Karachi elite are not the same. The MQM elite are fearful of losing their monopoly over their lone source of power. The ANP elite are bent upon capturing what they say is their fair share of power-and money.

This is what I wrote a few months ago: “The political elite – for their own interests – manipulate the security concerns of the masses through intentional incitements of ethnic animosities. Neither MQM nor ANP trust that the government has either the ability or the will to protect them against an attack. Then there is a spiralling cycle in which members of Group A mobilise and arm themselves to deter an attack from Group B. Group B, in turn, views the mobilisation threatening and arms itself to deter an attack. Fear leads to bloody conflict.”

Q: How do the primary actors justify this politics of murder?

A: The MQM justifies the use of extreme violence because the ANP is doing the same, and vice versa.

Q: When and how would the conflict end?

A: An end is not in sight because there hasn’t even been any formalised, structured attempt in conflict management.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email: farrukh15@hotmail.com

Courtesy: The News


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