Karachi: city and ethnicity

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by Singh, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

    Feb 23, 2009
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    Karachi has become one of the most polarized cities of the world

    Amid changing demographics and rising ethnic tensions, Karachi is suffering from the worst economic crisis of its history and has become one of the world's most polarized cities.

    Spates of violence in the last four years have cost the city more than 7,000 lives. As the economy collapses, criminal gangs backed by popular political parties are fighting over turf. That has resulted in what sociologist Hassan Munir calls "a business environment of the survival of the fittest, not just in terms of finances, but in terms of power".

    Karachi is vital to Pakistan's economy, responsible for 42 percent of the country's GDP, 70 percent of income tax revenue, and 62 percent of sales tax revenues. But the city "is essentially run by mafias that are supported by political parties", says Saeed Ahmed a socialist from Karachi University.

    In New Karachi, one of the 18 towns of Karachi and an MQM stronghold, all the tea stalls run traditionally by Pashtuns are now being run by Mohajirs.

    Muhammad Aamir, 41, runs a small cafeteria. He took over after the restaurant was closed by its Pashtun owner because of heightening ethnic tensions. "I think it is a great idea for us to take over businesses," he says. "These businesses should belong to locals, not outsiders."

    Ayaz Ahmed was a business owner in the Pashtun-dominated Sohrab Goth machinery market. He had to move because of fear of ethnic violence. "We had been doing business in that area for over 20 years, but were forced to leave only because we were Mohajirs," he said. "Our warehouse was bought by Mehsuds from FATA for very cheap. We didn't have options. They would have taken over anyway."

    "The district government will not computerize land records because they're run by members of ethnic political parties," a top Sindh government bureaucrat said. "And it will deliberately not provide water to certain areas, so local groups can run their own water supply."

    In return for such services, groups linked to key political parties force residents to donate money - known as Bhatta. The extortion is usually carried out under the cover of welfare organizations. When one political or ethnic group crosses over to another group's area for the collection of Bhatta, the killings begin. Areas where business is flourishing are considered lucrative, and are fought over.

    After violence surged in the North of Pakistan in the last decade because of the presence of the Taliban and military actions against them, there has been a steady flow of Pashtun immigrants in the city. The changing demographics threaten some of the local population.

    Ethnic tensions have risen to the point where certain hospitals reject patients because of their ethnic background. "We have to carefully select which ambulance driver to send to which locality," said Aftab Shakoor, who volunteers with Edhi Welfare Center.

    "Karachi's population is 19 million to 20 million according to conservative estimates," says Umer Ansari from NED University's Urban Studies department. "Although the city's infrastructure is heavily burdened, development work has come to a virtual stop since the abolishment of the local governments system in 2008.

    "The real need of the city is to have local elections, so that real representatives can carry out development at grassroots," says Khawaja Izharul Hasan, an MQM MPA.

    According to Zia Ahmed, from the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, business has suffered because of violence and the city has been losing Rs50 billion to Rs70 billion every month. "One violent day costs about Rs10 billion to business in Karachi," he said.

    One reaction to such problems is the emigration of the middle class of Karachi to other countries. "The rich and the middle class are leaving Karachi because of security concerns," said Anees Ahmed, an immigration consultant. "Emigration is at its peak, especially to Australia, Canada and even Malaysia."

    Report: Karachi: city and ethnicity by Ali K Chishti
  3. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

    Apr 13, 2013
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    Karachi’s Migrants and Militants

    Karachi’s politics are a mess, thanks to outside interference by Pakistan’s security establishment and elites.

    Karachi is considered one of the most violent cities in the world
    . It’s also a city whose political volatility, history of ethnic conflicts, and anti-establishment spirit continue to challenge Pakistan’s stability. Throughout Pakistan’s history, the country’s security establishment has consistently tried to control Karachi’s politics by forming political parties, bringing in insurgent groups, throwing religious parties into the city’s political mix, and using the state’s brute military machine to curtail any dissent. Arguably, though, Karachi and its migrant population, particularly the population that left their homes in various regions of India to travel to the new state of Pakistan after independence in 1947, have never been controlled by the country’s ruling elite.

    The elite’s preferred policy has remained aimed at dividing the city’s electoral vote bank to marginalize voices and political parties that don’t agree with the military’s way of managing the city. Currently, another phase of the state-led effort to control Karachi’s political dissent is underway. A few days ago, the military establishment’s latest attempt to merge two different factions of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) backfired when both groups publicly announced that the political merger was being enforced by the security establishment. Reportedly, the results of the recent population census in Karachi were maneuvered to conceal correct population numbers for various groups. Rejecting the provisional results of the sixth population census, Dr. Farooq Sattar, the MQM-P chief, said that at least “15 million people are missing in the census results.” With 15 million more people, at least five or six additional National Assembly (NA) seats will emerge in the city and its surrounding regions, which would directly favor the MQM’s electoral strength.

    The military has always remained interested in creating a political group that holds political sway over the city and the surrounding urban region’s population. To achieve this objective, from time to time, the military has thrown different political and religious parties into the city’s politics. However, so far, not a single political group created by this political engineering has successfully penetrated the city’s vote bank. Imran Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), has also been accused of playing the role of a “puppet political group” to manipulate and influence Karachi’s electoral outcomes to support the security organization’s agendas.

    For the military, political parties operating in the city remain one of the main challenges when it comes to dealing with the city’s ongoing militancy problem. However, such efforts on the state’s part have done little to change people’s minds about the alleged negative roles of various local political parties, particularly the MQM, in undermining Karachi’s stability. In fact, the migrant population of the city, which by and large supports the MQM, has grown more disillusioned with the state. The migrant population that arrived in Pakistan when India was partitioned in 1947 continues to blame the state for their suffering and deprivation. Consequently, this has only deepened their alienation. They believe that the state is out to isolate them politically and economically and the only way for them to survive is by staying together and supporting political groups that represent their interests, regardless of their questionable role in supporting militant groups in the city.

    However, the challenge for the Punjab-dominated ruling elite is that neither Karachi’s local political parties, particularly various cadres of the MQM, nor the provincial government, which is controlled by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), is ready to reconcile or submit to the military-bureaucratic establishment’s preferences for managing and running the city. As the next general election draws closer, it’s likely that there will be more intensive efforts to manipulate Karachi and its majority migrant community.

    The involvement of law enforcement agencies in the political manipulation of Karachi has turned the city’s politics into a mess. While the last two years of military operations in Karachi have sidelined militant wings of various political parties and terrorist organizations, the existing relative calm in the city remains vulnerable to the state’s ongoing efforts to control the city from the outside.

    The state needs to reconsider its heavy-handed approach to dealing with Karachi’s politics, for this approach has only deepened the city’s migrant community’s paranoia that they are still not acceptable in Pakistan.

  4. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

    Feb 26, 2010
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    Karachi se log apno mein androone mulk eid manaane ja rahe hain....
  5. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

    Apr 13, 2013
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    What Explains the Increase in Missing Persons in Sindh?
    Between January and August, around 110 nationalist activists and human rights defenders in Sindh have disappeared.

    GM Syed’s birthday was coming up but he was under pressure from the government to call off public celebrations. Pakistan was under General Ziaul Haq’s military dictatorship. No political activity could be allowed – not even a celebratory event. Syed called a meeting of his senior comrades in his Sindhi nationalist movement at his native town of Sann to seek their views. Everyone favoured the cancellation. Everyone except Mohammad Rahimoon. He stood up and made a passionate argument in favour of holding the event. “I know a GM Syed who has always stood up to authority. I do not know a GM Syed who is willing to make a compromise,” he said. Syed had to let the celebrations proceed.

    That was 32 years ago.

    On February 25, 2017, Rahimoon appeared before the media in Golarchi town of Badin district to announce that he had quit politics. This was also his first appearance in public after he had gone missing on November 22, 2016. He sounded bitter, according to a report in daily Dawn. The practitioners of Sindhi nationalism, he said, “did nothing when I was taken away”.

    Rahimoon has maintained public silence since then. He does not want to identify who kidnapped him or any details about where they took him and why. “I was treated well,” is the only thing he says of his time in the disappearance. “They, indeed, are good people,” he says of those who had kept him in detention during that time.

    His reluctance to give any other details has generated all kinds of stories. One legend goes that he was briefed about the activities of different Sindhi nationalist groups – that they have good relations with intelligence agencies, that they are not sincere to Sindhi nationalism, that they are opportunists. Another anecdote suggests he was shown a video about the lavish lifestyle and playful activities of Shafi Burfat, head of the outlawed Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM), who lives in Germany. This video is also said to have images showing the pain and misery of the families of those Sindhi nationalist activists who have either disappeared or have died.

    These stories remain unconfirmed but their variants are pervasive in different parts of Sindh. Whenever a Sindhi nationalist activist announces his departure from politics, similar rumours and speculations circulate around his decision. And there have been many such announcements in recent months. In April this year, 22 activists in Ghotki district dissociated themselves from Sindhi nationalist politics; about five months later, 35 others did the same in Badin district; in September, three people in Tharparkar district’s headquarters, Mithi, renounced their links to Sindhi nationalist ideology.

    Most of them have called it quits from politics altogether. Others have joined non-nationalist parties – Nasrullah Kaladi being one of them.

    He was heading the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz-Bashir Qureshi Group (JSQMQ) in Ghotki district when he addressed a press conference in May 2017 and said he was moving away from the politics of Sindhi nationalism. About 50 other office holders and members of the JSQMQ made the same announcement along with him. Kaladi later joined the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). One rumoured reason for his change of parties is that he had been receiving threatening phone calls that alluded to his political activities. He does not confirm or deny this.

    Whether this move will protect him from more threats is not known yet.

    In at least one case, that of Nangar Channa, disavowal did not prevent disappearance. A writer from Larkana, Channa made a public declaration earlier this year that he was no longer associated with any Sindhi nationalist group. He still went missing on September 5, 2017. One of his friends links his disappearance with reports that he had renewed telephonic contact with his former political comrades. The truth is near impossible to find.

    Punhal Sario has been leading a campaign for the recovery of people going missing in Sindh. In May 2017, he was instrumental in setting up the Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh (VMP-Sindh), a group that includes human rights activists and the families of those who have disappeared.

    As the founding convener of the group, Sario led a long march from Hyderabad to Karachi in July this year. He was to hold a seminar in Hyderabad on August 4 but he went missing a day earlier. He was travelling in a car in Hyderabad with his friend Dr Haresh Kumar when, at about 11 pm, men in police commando uniforms took him away. He came back home on October 18.

    After his disappearance, Sorath Lohar has assumed his responsibilities at VMP-Sindh. Her father, Hidayatullah Lohar, has been missing since April this year. A primary school headmaster and an ironsmith in his spare time, he was a supporter of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz-Arisar Group. “We do not know if he is still alive,” she says.

    Sorath, who has a postgraduate degree in computer science and is studying law at Sindh Law College, Hyderabad, continues to organise protests for the recovery of missing persons even though she knows the risks involved. “Sometimes shopkeepers refuse to make banners for our protests at the eleventh hour. My younger brother gets threatening phone calls and has been warned that he would be abducted like our father if we continue participating in demonstrations,” she says. “Strangers often follow me. They make it obvious to me that they have pistols under their clothes.”

    While Sorath’s association with the disappeared is obvious, others have faced problems even for raising a voice for them.

    Qadir Bakhsh Zaor and Shams Meerani, both associated with a lesser known group, Jeay Sindh Liberal Front (JSLF), had placed an order at a shop in Thatta city for a banner that they would take to a protest for Sario’s recovery and release. On September 10, 2017, they were standing at that shop when a man approached Zaor and told him to follow him to a jeep parked nearby. He was told to get into the vehicle. Meerani joined him soon.

    “They handcuffed and blindfolded us and kept driving around for an hour and a half. They were abusing and hitting us, all the while demanding we reveal our links with Punhal Sario,” says Zaor.

    When the two were taken off the jeep, they were beaten badly and ushered, one by one, into an air-conditioned room where some officers asked them various questions – where do you get money from; are you in touch with Shafi Burfat; have you ever been to India. After the interrogation, they were shifted to separate cells. Some officers came to Zaor’s cell later and told him that the JSMM had released Facebook posts about his disappearance. “I said I had nothing to do with the JSMM,” he says.

    A few hours afterwards, Meerani and he were taken to the historic graveyard of Makli and were released, but not before warning them that they needed to quit their group or else they would be picked up again.

    The disappearances of people linked to Sindhi nationalism, both directly as activists and indirectly as defenders of the rights of those activists, have increased significantly in 2017. Data collected by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) states that 110 nationalist activists, as well as human rights defenders in Sindh, disappeared between the months of January and August this year. In 2016, the number of such disappearances was six – through all of them still remain untraced.

    Sindh Human Rights Defenders (SHRD), a volunteer organisation campaigning for the recovery of the disappeared, puts the number of people have gone missing in the province this year at 123 – only nine of them have come back home. Though such incidents have been taking place for years, their frequency has increased dramatically in the last few months, according to Ali Palh, a lawyer associated with the SHRD. “As many as 170 cases of enforced disappearances of Sindhi nationalists, students and human rights activists have been [recorded] … during the last five years. More than two-thirds of them have disappeared in 2017 alone,” he says.

    These numbers are mostly based on cases either reported to the police or by the media. In many other instances, people went missing for a short while –sometimes even less than a day – and came back home before the police or the media were informed about their disappearance. Some of them claim being kept in detention by intelligence agencies and tortured. While in captivity they were often accused of trying to give the military a bad name. They were also told that their leaders were getting money from India and that the children of those leaders were either studying abroad or at renowned institutions within Pakistan even as the children of ordinary activists lived miserable lives.

    According to GM Bhagat, an Umerkot-based writer and researcher approaching 70, a major reason behind the latest increase in enforced disappearances is the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “The intelligence agencies treat [the critics of CPEC] as their enemies,” he says. “Those who even whisper against CPEC are either kidnapped or killed.” Bhagat himself has been picked up four times by the intelligence agencies between the 1990s and 2006. When he was last taken away, he spent a whole year in their custody.

    The other known reason why so many Sindhi nationalists have gone missing is their alleged or actual involvement in anti-state activities such as the burning of Pakistan’s flag, an allegation that is said to be behind the September 25, 2014 disappearance of a JSQM activist, Waheed Lashari, from Larkana. He was later found dead in Gulshan-e-Maymar, Karachi, on November 27 that year.

    These incidents may have some connection with the Pakistan Army too. An affidavit signed recently by a large group of Sindhi nationalists renouncing their political ideology ends on “Pakistan Zindabad, Pak Fauj [army] Zindabad”. It reads like an oath of allegiance: “We vow to be faithful to Pakistan. It is our country and we … will more than eagerly take part in its progress.”

    Real or suspected links with the JSMM – a government-declared terrorist organisation that wants Sindh to become an independent state and that has accepted responsibility for a number of terror attacks in the province in recent years – ranks at the top of the list of reasons for the missing person phenomenon. Many of the disappeared are known to have been warned during captivity: end links with the JSMM or else be prepared to face the music.

    Zakir Bozdar paid the ultimate price for ignoring this warning. Associated with the JSMM, he first disappeared in May 2012 but came back home five months later. In December 2016, he disappeared again. Five days later, his body was found in his native Ghotki district. He was 30 at the time. “He had been told by his captors to quit the JSMM but he did not,” says one of his relatives.

    Some veterans of Jeay Sindh movement believe these capture and kill tactics may be unnecessary. In their estimation, disillusionment with the politics of an independent Sindh, or Sindhudesh, is pervasive and the struggle for it has already lost its ideological and political vigour. Most Sindhi nationalist leaders and activists have become opportunists, says Juman Darbadar, a Sindhi language poet from Umerkot who is known for his eulogies and elegies of Sindh.

    He joined the Jeay Sindh movement in 1978 as a young man and became quite close to its founder GM Syed. He soon wrote a poem that is regarded as Sindi nationalism’s anthem: “Wathi har har janam warbo, mitha Mehran mein milbo (We will be born again and again until, my sweetheart, we meet in our own land of Mehran)”. Sung by many popular Sindhi singers and employed as a rallying cry for various Sindhi nationalist groups, the first couplet of this poem is inscribed at the entrance to Syed’s mausoleum in Sann.

    “Even those who are quitting Sindhi nationalist groups and joining other parties are doing so for personal and financial reasons more than anything else,” Darbadar remarks.

    This article was originally published in The Herald. Read the original here.

    CPEC will bring doom to pakistan and implode pak by breaking it into pieces :D

    Looks like Mission Karachi in progress ...


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