KARACHI: Lyari, it appears, is no longer only a battlefield for the people of the Kutchi and Baloch community who reside in the area, but also for Sindh’s two mainstream political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement – only theirs is a war of words.
Only a day after the internally displaced people (IDPs) of the Kutchi community returned to their homes, explosions and gunshots could once again be heard in the neighbourhood. Around two dozen people, including 15 women and children, were injured in rocket attacks and intense firing which started late Monday night between the two groups and continued till early morning hours. The residents only got a few hours of respite as the rocket attacks resumed on Tuesday night. At least five people were wounded and two MQM workers were killed till the filing of this report.
Soon after, MQM Chief Altaf Hussain’s demand for army in Karachi “to protect the life and property of the Kutchi community” came forward which created waves in the political sphere and as well as in Lyari. “This is all a pre-planned game by the MQM,” said Peoples Amn Committee’s leader Zafar Baloch, while opposing Altaf Hussain’s demand. “There was a time when the MQM vehemently opposed presence of army in Karachi, saying that the force should be all over Pakistan and not only one city. What has happened suddenly for them to change their mind?”
He also accused the political party of trying to use the Supreme Court’s Karachi law and order suo motu implementation proceedings, set to begin today [Wednesday], and include Lyari in the case.
The PPP wasn’t far behind in making its own accusations. “The recent wave of violence in Karachi, especially in Lyari, began after the provincial government approved the Sindh Local Government Ordinance,” said PPP MPA Javed Nagori while making an open reference to MQM. “We believe that the violence does not only exist in Lyari, but also other parts of the city, especially Orangi Town where our workers are being killed. The media, however, is only focusing on Lyari.”
The MQM, on the other hand, feels that it is completely justified in calling for the army since “the Rangers and police have failed to restore peace”. “What is wrong with our demand? Earlier, several parties had also asked for the army to step in. There has been no improvement in the law and order situation – at least the army will be free to decide who the miscreants are. We will accept the army’s decisions even if they arrest our people who are found guilty.”
Although the first half of Tuesday remained violence-free in Lyari, the atmosphere in the area was reportedly extremely tense, confining residents to their homes. Bodies of three abducted men, who have yet to be identified, were also found from different parts of Lyari.
The police, who believe that both the Kutchi and Baloch community are behind the violence, have been given shoot-on-sight orders but it appears are outnumbered by members of both groups. “We are facing armed men from both groups and are answering their bullets with our own,” Lyari SP Javed Iqbal Bhatti told The Express Tribune. “Shoot-on-sightorders have been issued but we have been unable to target the armed men as they open fire and launch rocket attacks from their hideouts.”
Earlier, residents along with PPP lawmakers Javed Nagori and Sania Naz protested at the Aath Chowk in Lyari against the delayed response of law enforcers to the violence.
Source: The Express Tribune