Pakistan's gateway bleeds over political opportunism

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Karachi, Nov.1 (ANI): Karachi, the gateway to Pakistan, has been bleeding for the past several weeks due to political compromises and opportunism. The ruling elite terms it as a "political solution" in the name of "national reconciliation", but in actuality, the politicians are allowing merciless killings of scores of innocent people in the city which holds the economic lifeline of the country.

The issue is becoming another problem for Pakistan People's Party (PPP) chief Asif Ali Zardari, who is also the President of Pakistan, as one of his most reliable cabinet members, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, has failed to find a 'political solution' despite showing his significant presence in Karachi for the past few days.

Thirteen people were killed in his presence just a couple of days ago.

The three major political stakeholders - the PPP, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP) - are coalition partners, but behind the curtain, they do not trust each other. They are continuing with the present set up because of their political opportunism, experts believe.

The battle for supremacy and making Karachi their stronghold has led to a strange pattern of targeted killings in the port city. All three stakeholders have held the city hostage for the past three decades. It seems they have agreed on criminal silence for their short-term political gains under a turbulent and threatened set up of bad governance.

The ruling PPP has to "compromise" with its political partners in the provincial government of Sindh and central government to avoid any significant crack in its roughly sailing boat of coalition government.

Losing the support of the MQM or the ANP can easily lead to the in-house toppling of the federal government and serious damage to the ruling set up in the province of Sindh, political pundits believe.

On the one side the PPP is negotiating 'peace' with the MQM, major partner of the set up from Sindh and on the other side it has started 'friendly' talks with the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-eAzam), a major group in the opposition, which was in power during the previous term.

The talks are considered an attempt to stop the sinking boat of the government if the MQM parts way over the Karachi situation. The MQM and the ANP blame each other for Karachi violence amid the uproar of presence of hardened criminals, militants and Taliban elements in the city.

"Karachi situation has deeply affected industry adding to the sufferings of tens of thousands of daily wagers and the families whose bread-earners are being ruthlessly killed," Lt Gen (retired) Moeenuddin Haider, former governor of the province of Sindh and interior minister of the country during General (retired) Pervez Musharraf's regime, said.

"It is destabilising the image of this city of great importance and the whole country and obviously it affects government's stability when there is no governance. Law and order is directly related to the governance of a government, which has failed to do it. Police and paramilitary force like Pakistan Rangers, which is controlling the city's law and order, are not directed to show zero tolerance," he added.

He said there is lack of political will.

He said: "There are political compromises derailing the stability of the city because they are coalition partners. It is also affecting the economy, badly."

The major political parties are also partners in the federal government so automatically any serious difference can affect the federal set up, he said, adding, criminal elements and kidnappers are also there.

He said: "It is not a good way to run the government but they are running this set up in the same bad way for the past two and a half year."

The latest bout of violence started in the middle of last month (October) over the boycott of a by-poll in the provincial assembly of the city by one Pakhtoon dominated coalition partner of the sitting federal and provincial governments, ANP, blaming the other partner MQM for rigging and violence.

Around 100 people have been killed in Karachi in the past two weeks, the city which contributes around 10 percent of the total population of Pakistan.

In the latest spree, reportedly, 13 people have been killed in one market in one day at the moment when country's interior minister Malik is camping in the city for political talks to maintain peace.

Police reports say that more than 1,100 people have been killed in the city in the current year. The number is increasing as the year comes to an end.

Target killing of political, ethnic and religious figures has become a routine along with the contentious incidents of crime and kidnapping for ransom.

"It appears that the workers of the big political parties in Karachi are no longer under the control of leadership. Because it is the workers and supporters those are indulged in indiscriminate murders and killings. The political bosses there not stop them through the use of the force of the law," Dr Mubashir Hasan, former finance minister and a founding member of the ruling PPP who is now guiding another faction of the party called PPP Shaheed Bhutto, said.

"What is happening is under the protection of political bosses and the pliant state apparatus. There is no alternative with the elite of the political parties to stick together and support each other in the most unfavorable environment. The downfall of all their political power and their governmental authority is there future." (ANI)

Attn: News Editors/News Desks: The views expressed in the above article are those of Mr. Ali Waqar.

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