The government of Asif Ali Zardari launched a police operation against criminal gangs in Lyari 8 days ago.
Some background on what Lyari is. One of the oldest sections of Karachi, home to over 1 million people. Amazingly loyal to the Pakistan People’s Party until recently. Also a center of drug smuggling and other profitable rackets, therefore of great interest to every gangster in Karachi, where gang wars have happened before.
For some background on the gangs of Lyari, see this. (keep in mind that with so much money involved, journalists are also bought and sold. Details may not be as presented here, but you get the picture…)
Comical Ali, interior minister of Pakistan, had this to say yesterday.
And here is a video from inside Lyari during the said operation.
The police force is led by Choudhry Aslam, an officer who can supposedly get things done (including things like bumping off people in “encounters”).
This police force, armed with armored personnel carriers, has not been able to conquer more than a couple of streets in Lyari till now. It looks like they are now stopping the operation (at least for 48 hours). Clearly the police were not thinking of this being a street by street urban battle that they wont win. If they don’t have a good idea of how things are likely to go, we can be excused for having no idea at all.
Zardari’s corrupt regime is the tip of the iceberg. The fish is rotting from the head (and Zardari, while formally president, is not the head). Much of the ruling elite in Pakistan may not give a damn because they all have their money and passports ready to go, but even those who do want to keep the goose alive are not doing a good job of showing they know what to do. The great hope is supposed to be the next caretaker regime and/or Imran Khan (who is now being compared to Quaid e Azam by his fans..the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce). Enuff said.
The elite had their chance in 2001. If they had chosen to go with America, what the left derisively calls a “neocolonial neoliberal regime” might have managed to keep things going. But they thought they could have their cake and eat it too. Now, its close to getting too late. Big bad America is not happy and the violent Islamists are not happy and the state is corrupt, incompetent and losing control…and in no position to fight both parties at the same time.
With nuclear weapons in hand, it may not be too late even now. Bargain smartly and there may be a chance to keep the goose alive for several years. By then, other possibilities will open up.