Over 740 killed in five months: HRCP sees change in Karachi violence pattern
Syed Hassan Ali
KARACHI: More than 740 people have been killed in the metropolis over the past five months, many of them falling prey to targeted attacks on political, sectarian and ethnic grounds, said chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Zohra Yusuf while speaking to Dawn on Tuesday.
In May alone, she added, as many as 250 people were murdered.
“The killing of Baloch men is a new factor to the violence that has gripped the city for past many years,” she said, adding that it had not yet been ascertained if that was linked to Lyari gang warfare, the situation in Balochistan or some other elements.
“The overall pattern of killings seems to have changed now as until last year there were targeted attacks concentrated in a few months, but violence has now spread over months with little gap in the series of killings,” she said. However, this had had no major impact on the number of killings so far, she said, mentioning that 1,715 people were killed in the city last year.
She said deweaponisation in Karachi could help ease the situation.
The HRCP chairperson said that political parties could not simply absolve themselves of their responsibility by saying that those held for their involvement in targeted killings had already been thrown out of the party.
“Karachi is a multi-ethnic city and all the parties will have to accept this reality,” she said, explaining that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Awami National Party should accept each other as a political force and so should other parties.
“It’s not a failure of one or two political parties,” said MQM leader Wasim Aftab while speaking to Dawn.
He added the ongoing killings, hand-grenade attacks, kidnappings and extortion activities were not being carried out by political parties.
It’s an open secret that a handful of criminals associated with the outlawed People’s Amn Committee (PAC) were behind this, he said. “Then there can also be involvement of foreign elements and religious fundamentalists in causing unrest,” he said, insisting that one must not forget that Karachi is a port city that generates huge revenues for the country and anyone desiring to destabilise Pakistan would first cause unrest in the metropolis.
Asked if the MQM wanted another operation in Lyari, he said that the party would support any move that could weed out criminals from Lyari.
As far as deweaponisaiton was concerned, he said that the MQM had already moved a bill in the National Assembly in this regard.
He said parties should not involve themselves in point scoring on this issue. “Weapons are not manufactured in Karachi so there should be checks on movement of arms across the country.”
PAC spokesman Zafar Baloch said that 105 Baloch men were killed in this city last month. “Only last Thursday night, four Baloch men were targeted in an attack near Annu Bhai Park, a stronghold of the MQM, followed by another deadly attack on Baloch men in Surjani Town on
Friday,” he added.
“Are they being targeted by Amn Committee?” he questioned. Even on Tuesday, two Baloch men were kidnapped in Timber Market, he said.
He blamed the MQM for the violence in the city, saying that many residents had fled the old city areas while traders not associated with the
MQM were being threatened to close down their businesses. The situation had deprived many people of their livelihoods, he added.
He appealed to law-enforcement agencies to take notice of the situation and protect the life of Baloch people before it’s too late.
Speaking about targeted killings, Sindh Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Shah said that every murder could not be labelled as a targeted killing.
He was of the opinion that there was no steep rise in the number of killings. “In certain pockets of the city, the number of killings has increased but in some other areas it had been controlled,” he explained.
About the investigation of cases in which policemen were targeted, he said that teams had been constituted following the killing of SP Mohammad Shah and investigations were under way.
He added that when policemen participated in operations against criminals they were aware of the fact that they could be targeted.
Asked if the police was in a position to provide security if a date for local government elections was announced, the police chief replied in the affirmative.