Sectarian Violence In Karachi: Time To Act – by Sana Saleem

Cross posted from Mystified Justice blog

Shi'ite Muslims beat their chests during a protest against target killings in Karachi June 12, 2010. Up to five people were killed in political and sectarian violence in the southern city of Karachi in the past 24 hours, police said. REUTERS/Athar Hussain (POLITICS CIVIL UNREST IMAGES OF THE DAY)

“It was around 8am when Mr Jafri parked his car and walked to enter the hospital. Two men riding motorbikes came close to him. One of them pulled out a 9mm pistol and fired multiple shots at him. He received three bullets and died on the spot.”

Naseer Hussain Jafri, 34, was a Shia Muslim, married and a medical technician who had just reached the hospital to begin his routine work.

Jafri’s body was left in a pool of blood as the attackers immediately left, quite possibly for another victim. Almost an hour later, Rizwan Qadri, 25, was killed. Two men on a motorcycle shot Qadri as he was standing at a paan shop with his friends in New Karachi. He died on his way to the hospital. Qadri was a Sunni Muslim and an activist for the Sunni Tehrik.

What was their fault? What did they do to deserve such a death? The authorities suggest it was a targeted killing on sectarian grounds.

Jafri and Qadri are now among the dozen others who have been killed in the name of sectarian violence. Their deaths are being blamed on a banned religious outfit and condemnations have started pouring in, with statements such as, “This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Apologies for the pessimism but when banned outfits are on the loose ready to kill anyone, with the life of hundreds of civilians on stake, mere condemnations only serve as a slap on the face for the victims’ family and for society as a whole. Sectarian violence is not a new phenomenon – we have had our share of the worst possible sectarian clashes.

Even so, it seems we have yet to figure out a strategy tocounter sectarian violence.

Needless to say people expect better from a popularly elected democratic government that promised to ease the misery of the people.

Everyday doctors, technicians, activists and even civilians with no political affiliations are gunned down. The truth is we have come to a point where being a Jafri or a Qadri does not matter. It does not matter whether you are on the road, in a shop, in school, at work or even in a mosque – no place is safe.

Even worse is the fact that investigations only determine the nature of the incident and shed no light on the root cause and doesn’t help in identifying the miscreants.

The return of target killings in Karachi raises many questions: What is the government doing to protect its civilians? Why do we still lack a strategy and will to curb banned organisations? Who is supporting such elements? Most of all, why is it so easy for unknown attackers to ride away leaving their dead victims in a pool of blood? How many more families will have to suffer before the government decides to move on
from mere name-calling and the blame game, and finally do something substantial?

After all it is the responsibility of the government to deliver what it had promised, to provide security, and most importantly to device a counter-terrorism strategy. We voted for an independent, democratic government that would insure the safety of its people – it is high time we get what we deserve and the time is to act is now.



Latest Comments
  1. Ali Arqam Durrani
  2. Sadia Hussain
  3. Aamir Mughal
  4. Sher Zaman
  5. Humza Ikram