Army can save Karachi from civil war

A collapsing civilian law enforcement apparatus, well organised warring factions and proliferation of arms — all mix up to make the ideal cocktail for a civil war. Karachi has all three ingredients.
IG Sindh has no control over four out of every 10 policemen. PPP, MQM         and ANP maintain, support, sustain and nurture their own well organised militant wings. PPP, MQM and ANP are armed to the teeth.

According to a “secret” cable sent by Consul General Stephen Fakan, Karachi has “33,000 police officers” but MQM is the “largest non-governmental armed element” with “10,000 active armed members and as many as 25,000 armed fighters in reserve.” The cable further states that the “police in Karachi are only one of several armed groups in the city, and they are probably not the most numerous or best equipped.” The cable asserts that the consulate has observed the MQM “security personnel carrying shoulder-fired weapons ranging from new European AKMs to crude AK copies….” Other armed groups named in the cable include MQM-H, ANP, Sunni Tehrik and PPP.

MQM is a status quo power willing and very capable to fight to maintain its political monopoly over Pakistan’s richest city. PPP and ANP are both revisionist powers willing and very capable to fight their way to revise the balance of power. For all practical purposes the state does not exist — there’s no empire.

Political leaders, for their own interests, are busy adding fuel to ethnic fires. Then there’s this spiralling cycle in which ANP arms itself to deter an attack from MQM. MQM, in turn, views ANP’s mobilisation threatening and adds to its existing stockpile. Fear is leading to a bloody conflict — a conflict that has all the ingredients of turning into a civil war. How could PPP, the single biggest political party, keep itself out of the single biggest cake in play?

State institutions responsible for the security of life and limb of residents of Karachi have failed — nay collapsed. State failure produced a vacuum — security vacuum — that has been filled by a dangerous combine of politically-supported militant wings, organised crime mafias and sectarian fireballs. State institutions responsible for dispensing justice and providing municipal services have also failed producing another vacuum — capacity vacuum.

MQM, PPP and ANP are deep into politics of violence. It’s time for a timeout — a brief suspension of politics of murders whereby a neutral empire throws offending players off the field to cool off their heels and disband militancy if they want to resume the play.

Political problems have to be resolved by politicians but militant wings cannot and should not be allowed to hold 18 million residents of Karachi and Pakistan’s economy hostage.

Imagine; our economy is already on the edge of the precipice. Unfortunate as it is, politicians are leading Karachi towards a civil war while crying out loud that they have a plan. Remember; “Zeus does not bring all men’s plans to fulfilment”.


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