Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Sobering news from Pakistan. A low-grade war in Karachi – or in all of Pakistan?

The news from Pakistan is worrisome. We have already noted how badly things have been moving there for many years, with signs of the price the Pakistan people are paying for a double-minded administration. The latest evidence is the fighting in Karachi. Here are some quotes from the Al Jazeera article [8/2/11].

Karachi violence leaves 34 dead in single day: Interior minister vows to restore peace after at least 34 people are killed and 90 vehicles burnt over 24-hour period.
02 Aug 2011 16:14

Dozens of people were killed and scores of vehicles burned in Karachi in the latest violence on Tuesday [EPA]

> 34 people have been killed in the past 24 hours.

> at least 18 of the killings targeted political activists,

. . .

> The latest round of violence has been attributed to a fight for political influence in the city between Karachi's main parties, Tyab said.

> police say about 200 people were killed in last month alone,

> Local media put the toll even higher, with the Dawn newspaper reporting that 318 people were killed during the month.

> in Orangi, Karachi's largest and one of its poorest slums... More than 100 people were killed during three days of violence in the slum [recently].

> violence has since spread to other parts of the city of more than 18 million.

> On Monday, at least 90 vehicles were set ablaze in different parts of the city.

> In one incident, at least 80 motorcycles were burnt when dozens of people stormed a textile factory late on Monday and set fire to the vehicles parked outside the industrial unit.

> Over the years, criminal gangs have been used by political parties in a city-wide war for influence in Karachi, which contributes about two-third of Pakistan's tax revenue.

> criminal elements were "exploit[ing] the breakdown of law and order".

> "While gangs of land-grabbers and mafias have tried to exploit the breakdown of law and order, they do not appear to be the main directors of the horrible game of death and destruction; that distinction belongs to more powerful political groups and it is they who hold the key to peace".

> the political parties in Pakistan have been exploiting the divisions that exist in this city ... and often they will turn to the underworld, the criminals, to carry out their dirty work," he said.

> The HRCP had previously said that 1,138 people were killed in Karachi in the first six months of 2011, of whom 490 were victims of political, ethnic and sectarian violence.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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