Pakistan: Karachi Under Attack

Skyline of Karachi. Image from Flickr by Kashiff. Used under a Creative Commons License
Skyline of Karachi. Image from Flickr by Kashiff. Used under a Creative Commons License

On February 5, 2010, two suicidal blasts struck the metropolitan city of Karachi killing 15 people and leaving 70 wounded. The first attack mainly targeted the Shia mourners traveling to join the Muharram processions. The second blast took place outside the emergency department of Jinnah Hospital, where the injured were being shifted. The attacks came 40 days after the Ashura bombing that killed over 40 people. Unfortunately, Karachi has had a history of violences of both ethnic and sectarian nature.

On my own blog I recalled and condemned the return of violence in Karachi:

The aftermath of Monday’s suicide bombing – the widespread rioting and burning – are characteristic of the kind of reaction and vandalism that follow sectarian attacks. Soon after the blast, riots broke out in various parts of the city. It appears that there was absolutely no damage control by security forces at that point. As a result, hundreds of shops were set ablaze, and at some point on late Monday night, it seemed as if the entire business district was at risk. Attacks of such nature have almost always been accompanied by widespread tensions. As riots continue, more questions are being raised on the role of the security personnel and their absence as widespread vandalism continues. It is evident that the attack doesn’t only target a specific sect. It is an attack to terrorise the people of Karachi and embroil them in conflict, thereby damaging the country’s economic hub.

Kalsoom Lakhani at CHUP – Changing Up Pakistan condemned the series of attacks on Shia Muslims, and questioned the law and order situation in the country:

We may not be entirely certain who was responsible for today’s attacks, but it is nevertheless horrific that they could happen at all. If all three cities were placed on red alert yesterday, was there not more that could be done to prevent today’s death? The targeting of Shia pilgrims as well as a hospital is not only tragic, but frankly also sickening. Is nowhere in Pakistan safe or untouched anymore?

In one comprehensive post earlier on the blog, Kalsoom gave an insight on the history of violence in Karachi. According to Dawnover 34 people lost their lives in ethnic violence in various part of the city in April last year. The public at large is appalled by the widespread violence and the authorities inability to establish control.

Another blogger Farheen Ali, shares her concern over the worsening situation of the city and inaction by the authorities in a post titled ‘Unabated wave of target-killing at Karachi’.

Following the violence, government has imposed section 144 across the Orangi Town. And after imposing the sections Government feels liberated from all the accountability and blame.

Adil Najam at All Things Pakistan demands that Karachi should be made a weapon free zone:

Even as violence of all forms spirals all over the country and even as, in the wake of the recent violence in there, politicians from all parties call for Karachi to be declared a “weapons free” zone (rightly!), it turns out that politicians and parliamentarians from all parties are busy distributing licenses for all forms of prohibited weapons as if these were kids candy.

Considering the recent unrest in Karachi, the government needs to take immediate action in order to put an end to the violence. However, as the news suggests the authorities are busy settling internal conflicts rather than addressing vital issues.



4 thoughts on “Pakistan: Karachi Under Attack

  1. S,

    Thanks for this heartfelt post. I would like to comment on the “sectarian” aspect of this tragedy. Consider the background of people killed in the Ashura blast: according to one report 15 of the 50 killed were Sunnis, two Bohra Shias, and one Christian. Anyone familiar with the ground reality in Pakistan knows that Muharram processions are widely attended by Muslims from diverse sectarian background, and at some places, even non-Muslims also participate. Thus the processions are not an exclusive tradition of Shias, contrary to how it is framed in the international news media. They are for all those who want to commemorate the noble sacrifice of the grandson of the Holy Prophet, Imam Hussain. However, the reductive representation in the international news media further distorts the image of Sunni-Shia differences in the mind of general viewers: An attack on Muharram procession is automatically seen as an attack on “Shias by Sunnis” in the news and analysis. Perhaps that was also the intention of the perpetrators of these attacks: to provoke sectarian differences and to distance the Sunnis from the Shias and Muharram processions.

    There is no fight between the Sunnis and Shias in Pakistan. The ongoing wave of terrorist attacks is aimed at not only Shias but also those Sunnis who are against extremism or who do not fit into the strategic equations of the bigger players in this game. Maulana Sarfraz Ahmed Naemi who was killed in a suicide attack on June 12, 2009 is a case in point.

    For more on this argument:

  2. I’m at a loss of words as to what I should say on this incident. So many of these have happened over the last couple of years, then we write about them, condemn them but then after a few days another one happens and we repeat the process of feeling sorry, writing about the incident and condemning it once again.

    A girl wrote a very bold blog on target killing, who fails to understand the point of target killing and what that’s supposed to achieve. And even though I don’t want to bring her in to any kind of trouble but I want all to read it.

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