Murder in London, riots in Karachi

by Sekundar on 9/17/2010 · 5 comments

Karachi, arguably the city with the largest Pashtun population in the world, looks set to slide into another round of ethnic/political violence. Imran Farooq, a Karachi native and leader of the Muhajir MQM (Muttahida Quami Movement) party living in exile in London, was stabbed to death last night by unknown assailants (prompting some to wonder if London’s days as a refuge for South Asian politicians were at an end). Almost immediately, Karachi went into lockdown, and not for the first time this summer. President Zardari, PM Gilani, and the ANP (the Awami National Party – the main party of Pashtuns in the city) have been quick to condemn the murder and appeal for calm (Nation), although that seems unlikely. The MQM and the ANP have traditionally been the heavyweights in that city of 15 (?) million, and often at odds.

Last month another MQM leader, Raza Haider, was killed, as was an ANP honcho, Obaidullah Yousafzai. Predictably, riots erupted across Karachi, and scores were killed and hundreds injured (ToI). The violence looks set to continue (WaPo). Coupled with the perceived poor government response to the flooding in Pakistan, this could be just the destabilization Musharraf needs when he announces his new part in two weeks in, no surprise, London (CSM).

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Sekundar works in national security, and has worked and studied in Central and South Asia.

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Umair September 17, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Well Imran Farooq’s body is being brought back to Karachi, and a ten day mourning period is in affect. This will certainly be enforced by the MQM, if you see photos you can see that the streets are completely empty, and next is the killings.

Frank September 19, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Most of the media reports I have read in the US and in the European media seem to suggest that the primary fault lines in Karachi are between Pashtuns and Urdu speakers who relocated there following the partition of India. However, from what I know about Pakistan and the wider region I would guess that the situation is more complex and nuanced than that simplistic explanation. I don’t know much about Karachi but I was also under the impression that it is more ethnically diverse than just those two groups.

Also, many of the news stories I read referred to the MQM and the ANP “controlling” large swaths of the city. Does that mean that they have their own private armies or does that mean that they use their influence amongst government security forces to exert that control, or is it a combination of both?

Umair September 19, 2010 at 4:11 pm

It is actually a combination of both. They both have people who exert influence both in the military and in the police force for them when they need the extra assistance.

They also hold literally a private army that does vendetta killings for them when necessary. MQM will hit back at whoever they feel are responsible for the killing of Imran Farooq; mourning or no mourning…

Sekundar September 21, 2010 at 12:34 am

To add to what Umair so rightly states, there are also other groups in Karachi. After partition, much of the tension in the city was between Muhajirs and Sindhis. But since the wars in Afghanistan, the Pashtun population of Karachi has grown exponentially.

waheek khan September 24, 2010 at 9:16 am

Pakhtoons are now second largest ethnic power in karachi and MQM scared of Pakhtoons to be unite against MQM Taget Killer Mafia.

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