Saving Karachi



In the spring of 1992, a confident young mother of two took her children to Karachi, at the invitation of friends from college who now resided there. One bright afternoon, she took her children out for a walk to explore the city. They were only a few blocks away from her friend’s home when the sight of a bus stop covered in fresh, dripping red blood dripping caused her to scream. She immediately ran into a shop, called her friend to come get her, and went back to Lahore, shaken.

The young woman in that story was my mother. She told me this story a few weeks ago, as we were discussing the sharp rise of killings in Karachi. One isolated incident like the one my mother experienced is bad enough; today’s Karachi sees violence on a daily basis. The figures of 5, 7, 10 dead in a day have gripped the city with fear. Over 1,000 people have been killed in 2010 alone. Such murders are now being called “target killings” though we never know the details of why the victims were chosen. At its heart, Karachi is an economic center as well as being a diverse city. Ethnic tensions and political strife are alleged to be the main causes of the recent spate of murders, with each death sparking another round of targets.

This has to stop. The PPP government has called for an end to the violence, and is working with the MQM to stabilize the city. But this has to be a conscious effort from all sides. We must investigate each crime, and root out the individuals behind this. As Saba Imtiaz points out in Foreign Policy¸the sale of illegal guns continues unabated and it must be stopped. All political parties, community leaders, and the general public must stand together against brutal killings of Pakistani citizens

As the saying goes, “An eye for an eye will turn the whole world blind.” It is time we all worked together, regardless of ethnic origin or political affiliation, and rallied for peace.