Ghost Town

Karachi after the violence

by Sana Ali

A city with a tumultuous history, Karachi is again embroiled in violence as a spate of targeted killings has turned Karachi into a ghost town. The killings come just days after the brutal murder of MQM leader Imran Farooq in England.

Fearing the worst, the city government immediately called for a 10-day mourning period, with schools and businesses shut down. Though this was done in respect to Mr. Farooq, one cannot help but feel it also serves as a pre-emptive measure against possible rioting and chaos. The leaders’ instincts were right: as of Wednesday morning, 30 people had been killed. Interior Minister Rehman Malik has reached out to Sindh’s Chief Minister to restore calm to the city (and to an increasingly scared public).

Federal and local governments have recognized a key truth: Karachi is languishing.

It has done so for years now. My mother recalls taking a trip to see a friend in Karachi in 1989, and being horrified at the sight of fresh blood at bus stops and train stations. It is a truly terrible fact that this is still the case in a city as vibrant and intellectual as our Karachi.

Karachi is one of our national treasures. The turmoil it has continuously faced must now be stopped. It seems we have that chance now. The MQM, as part of the PPP-led coalition, can step in and honor the legacy of Mr. Farooq by committing to the protection of all people. Though there is a great deal of raw emotion (and many people capable of stoking anger for short-term political gain), cooler heads must prevail and think of the “bigger picture.”

The old ways of destructive street politics have not worked for Karachi or Pakistan. That much has been proved countless times. Rather, engaging in dialogue and finding real solutions to the lives of ordinary Karachiites should be the key goal.

Disagreements will come, that is the very nature of politics. But human nature does NOT have to be vitriolic.  Leaders must lead by example; carrying out respectful dialogue with others who may disagree will send a strong signal. Working together for the safety and prosperity of Pakistanis is the “bigger picture,” and those goals can only be reached by meaningful discussion.

Karachi deserves nothing else.

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