The growing convergence between crime and politics in Sindh is creating greater unrest and uncertainty in the province. It is not always easy to tell what motivates specific acts of violence and whether politics are involved in any way – but the results are almost always the same: death and devastation.
This was certainly the case at the PPP rally in Khairpur, where a gunman opened fire just ahead of the arrival of chief guest MNA Nafisa Shah, killing six people, injuring at least 12 and creating a general sense of panic as assembled people fled for cover. Some eyewitnesses say Azizullah Janwri, a convicted criminal, was behind the attack and that his target was the Administrator of TMA Khairpur, Niaz Hussain Janwri, who had previously been involved in having him arrested. Niaz was injured in the attack. Among those killed were local TV journalist Mushtaque Khand and the host of the rally, Zaffar Janwri. Two other journalists covering the event were also injured.
The motive behind the attack appears, for now, to be personal vendetta. But other possibilities are being explored as well. One is that the rally was targeted essentially to protest the new Sindh Peoples Local Government Ordinance (SPLGO) passed by the Sindh Assembly. The law, which has been opposed even by some members of the PPP, has drawn strong criticism from nationalist groups.
Suggestions are being made the attack may have been orchestrated by some groups or elements that are angry about the ordinance. But for now, it is quite impossible to say with any degree of certainty why the tragic incident took place. Although an investigation is on, we don’t know if it is going to lead anywhere. Too many similar incidents in the past have never been solved; definite conclusions in such investigations have always been something of a rarity.
The matter, almost always, simply ends with condemnation from senior and not-so-senior leaders and politicians – as has happened in this case as well. Attacks on political gatherings scare people away from attending similar events in the future, and parties from hosting them. This strikes at one of the fundamentals of democracy – the idea of citizens being able to have direct access to their representatives. Given the volatility of the political situation in our country, and the whispers of a political angle to the Khairpur shootings, the danger of some attempt at revenge also hangs over us. Every possible effort must be made to avert this and ensure that another orgy of violence is prevented.