The burden of Karachi


Karachi presents the spectacle of a place fast haemorrhaging to death while Nero, the last of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, in contemporary attire, sits in Islamabad in the company of his minions, nonchalantly playing the lyre. Each day, the city bleeds a big step closer to the precipice to the accompaniment of the satisfying murmurs of the liquidation squad. What is it that makes us so ruthless, so callous?

The mystery lies hidden in the dynamics of multiple treacheries that have been heaped upon this country since the day it appeared on the face of the world. But nothing would be remotely comparable to the current spate of demonic inflictions that is fast-forwarding the country to the brink of extinction.

The story can be traced to the formulation and implementation of that mother of all ills – the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) – that catapulted the incumbent coterie to the citadel of power. Once there, they have never looked at the horrible trail of destruction being left behind. The rationale of the NRO goes to a combination of mutually complementary requisites that had evolved over time: a weakened sitting dictator who needed the support of a political outfit to stay in power and the political entity, with the help and patronage of its foreign guarantors, that was willing to extend the required support in exchange for their own benefit and that of their masters. The former fell in the ambit of personal loot and the latter in the domain of compromising Pakistan’s inherent security interests in order to promote those of the guarantors. The army, still languishing under the weakened command of the dictator, was reduced to playing the role of the formulator and the implementer of this hideous and crooked manipulation called the NRO, since declared void ab initio by the Supreme Court.

In the elections that followed the promulgation of the aberration and carte-blanche reprieve granted to its multiple beneficiaries including Mr. Asif Zardari, people threw up a potpourri of legislators to manipulate the fate of this country which they have accomplished with consummate skill. Be it acts of mega loot and plunder or playing second fiddle to the excruciatingly humiliating dictates of their foreign masters reducing the country to becoming a captive fiefdom, they have lived up to fulfilling the agenda promised vide the NRO.

In doing so, the lead political party has been graciously served by other political outfits – some by joining it as ruling partners and reaping collateral benefits and others by playing the fake role of an opposition. There has been one common cause uniting these disparate groups: hatred of the army. One set out to humiliate the army through implicating it in its grievous wrongdoings and, for the other, it has remained the consistent target of its vituperative hatred springing out of the act of having been ousted from the seat of power and its leadership forced to live a number of years in luxurious exile. This does not come by way of defending the act of the army. It comes by way of recounting a fait accompli that has been bestowed upon the country to the utter ruination of the state.

Will Pakistan be allowed to bleed to death? Left to the ruling political mafia, that appears to be the preferred option as is so vividly demonstrated by the manner in which heinous acts of arson, loot and murder have been condoned in Karachi and elsewhere in the country. For all the years that the concoction has been in power, its lead actors have been issuing threats of ‘taking action’ against the gangs of criminals operating wantonly in the streets and back alleys of Karachi. The net result has been a death-laden increase in the perpetration of crime in the hapless city where thousands have lost their lives to the lust of the ruling mafia.

The security forces, including the police and the Rangers, have been politicised to a point of ruination. The gangs of criminals, openly patronised by various political groups ala the PPP, MQM and ANP, are fighting turf wars in the city on their behest and to the advancement of their objectives. Instead of launching an incisive and effective cleansing operation, the security agencies have become criminal conduits to the infliction of these crimes. But, while most of the genuine stakeholders, including the business community and the civil society, who are interested in bringing peace back to the city, are campaigning vigorously for the army to be called in, the government refuses intransigently to do the inevitable trying to hide behind the facade of a toothless operation that would further perpetuate the ethnic divide in the ravaged city. While the army remains a victim of its original sin, the NRO, its principal beneficiaries remain engrossed in digging their tentacles deeper in denuding the country of its essential requisites for survival.

The burden of Karachi is becoming more menacing by the day as an increasing number of people fall prey to the devious game plan. This burden, unfortunately, comprises the entire ruling mafia of the country entrusted with the task of defending it from internal and external threats. Instead, they have become criminal partners in expediting its collapse. Each day that passes brings more tales of gory deaths and mayhem, but the ruling mafia remains unmoved in its unholy resolve. Karachi can no longer be left to this gang of criminals. The judiciary has taken note of the deteriorating situation, but there is no time for an inherently slow process to unravel. Karachi needs an immediate surgical operation. Army? Judiciary? Or, the army-judiciary combine? There really is no other option.

The writer is a political analyst and a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. He can be reached at [email protected]