Sectarian Violence In Karachi: Time To Act

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First Appeared on DAWN.COM

“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.

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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.

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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.


5 thoughts on “Sectarian Violence In Karachi: Time To Act

  1. Karachi has been burning for a quite time. The innocent people people die in between the war netween two parties, allies of the government. Even a layman can understand that these killing incidents are actually the war between the two parties to gain the upper hand in the city. Federal government , after every tragedy, promises to bring the cilprits to law but nothing happen actualy. Needless to say that people expect better from the democratic government then just mere promises.

  2. I saw your most recent blog on “Dawn” and wanted to thank you for it.

    But Dawn won’t allow me to post in their blog section and they didn’t respond to my email asking why.

    In my comment I said that freedom has benefits but with a price.

    The main benefit of religious freedom is that it is healthy for religion.

    Religions can grow, worship and proclaim their faith without fear of retribution from those who disagree with them. People worship out of piety rather than civic obligation. This is a very good thing for religion.

    But there is a price. A few people always will abuse their freedom. Some will blaspheme. Some will aggressively proselytize. Others will convert away from the religion of their family. Some will marry outside the faith.

    In countries with full religious freedoms, these people are usually a small minority but often a loud one!

    Are Pakistanis willing to tolerate these bad behaviors in order to reap the benefit of religious freedom?

  3. Thanks for such an eye opening blog, but invain. No one will do any thing for innocent AWAM, even the so called AZAD Judiciary.
    Karachi people are lucky, they have columnists like you, who at least raise a voice, and provincial government or fedral government at least condumns the barbaric killings.
    Where as the innocent citizens of Islamic Republic of Pakistan in the city of Quetta are killed and targeted everyday without any voice. No one take any notice of them. The provencial govenment and even police officials are trying their best to make the people to defand themselves.
    More then 500 people have been killed so far under the democratic rule either on the sectarian or ethinic basses.
    Please have a look and raise your voice for those innocent people as well.

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