Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sunlight is The Best Disinfectant For Gangster Politicians of Karachi

Former Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza's dramatic August 28 press conference with a copy of the Holy Quran in his hand has become the center of news media attention in recent days.

Following this highly emotion-charged press conference which was carried live by almost all of the mainstream TV channels, Mirza has been hailed as a hero by some of the most popular TV talking heads for railing against MQM's top leadership, and for singling out Pakistan Peoples Party leader and Federal Home Minister Rehman Malik for his harshest accusations.

To assess the extent of Mirza's credibility, it is important to understand the following:

1. What triggered the latest of Mirza's outbursts? Was it Malik's decision to send the Rangers in to the Lyari neighborhood of Karachi?

2. When Mirza used a copy of the Holy Quran in the month of Ramadan to convey his sincerity, did he really tell the whole truth? or did he leave out the ugly truths about the horrific crimes committed by Karachi's armed gangs controlled by him and his ANP political allies?

The answer to both of the above questions can be found in the fact that Mirza's press conference occurred soon after he learned about the Pakistan Rangers' operation to clean out gang-infested Lyari. This operation was authorized by Rehman Malik over the objections of Mirza and without Mirza's prior knowledge to prevent him tipping off his gangster allies in Lyari.

During the Lyari operation, the Rangers discovered the horror chambers that were used to torture and kill people in recent weeks. The badly mutilated bodies of these torture victims were stuffed in bags and dumped in various parts of the city to create widespread fear. The perpetrators were none other than Mirza's allies who falsely labeled their gangs as "People's Amn (Peace) Committee" or PAC.

The Rangers also arrested 133 suspects and seized automatic weapons and ammunition that were concealed in a ditch inside a house. They also found rockets, grenades, nine sub-machine guns and hundreds of bullet rounds once they dug out the makeshift arsenal, according to the Express Tribune newspaper report.

The torture cells were found in the Nayyabad area of Lyari. One was underground while the other was on the first floor. Both were outfitted with chains, chairs, tape for gagging victims, ropes, and power tools to dismember bodies. Jackets, sacks and documents were strewn on the floor along with the uniform an indicating the identity of the victims as members of the MQM's Khimat-e-Khalq Foundation.

The TV news-anchors, talk-show hosts, and the print media reporters must not give Zulfikar Mirza a free pass when he tells the truth only selectively to hide his own misdeeds and the crimes of his political allies in patronizing criminal gangs. Nor should other politicians be spared the tough questions about their culpability in destroying Karachi's peace, and for seriously undermining Pakistan's economy. Pakistan's media must play their crucial role in exposing the growing nexus between crime and politics in Karachi, and the rest of Pakistan.

We must not forget that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

MQM Worried By Karachi's Demographic Changes

Karachi Tops World's Largest Cities

Karachi Tops Mumbai in Stock Performace

Eleven Days in Karachi

Pakistan Most Urbanized in South Asia

Karachi: The Urban Frontier

Do Asia's Urban Slums Offer Hope?

Orangi is Not Dharavi

Climate Change Could Flood Karachi Coastline

Karachi Fourth Cheapest For Expats

Karachi City Government

Karachi Dreams Big

Pakistan Census 2011

Jinnah's Vision of Pakistan

High Cost of Failure to Aid Flood Victims

World Memon Organization

Urbanization in Pakistan Highest in South Asia


Salman said...

MQM,PPP,ANP and lately Sunni Tehrik are all playing the same game.All ,at least the first three,want to get maximum share of land grabbing, bhattas,ransom and the drug money.This is now known to even a 4 years child living in Karachi.This is being done at a vey heavy cost of human lives and neither PM nor president care about what is going on.This leads many to beleive that they are share holders as well.Rahman Malik is kind and generous enough to help anyone out of these four whenever they need it.If some one beleives that he is simply doing it to show his obedience to his four masters without getting his share,must be the most innocent person on the earth.

Riaz Haq said...

Salman: "All ,at least the first three,want to get maximum share of land grabbing, bhattas,ransom and the drug money"

Land grab and other crimes rise as countries urbanize and urban land becomes precious and a way of wealth building for the unscrupulous.

The problem is Pakistan has become much more serious and deadly because of the close nexus between crime and politics which lets the powerful politicians get away with murder and mayhem.

Here's recent story from The Hindu newspaper about Bangalore land grab:

Bangalore: As many as 428 cases of encroachment of government land, detected by the Joint Legislature Committee headed by A.T. Ramaswamy, have been dropped without inquiry by the State Government. These cases involve 1,042 acres of land in all in Bangalore Urban district.

An inquiry report on these cases, submitted by a 15-member panel headed by the Regional Commissioner, Bangalore Division, last month stated that they were all blatant instances of falsified documents and that dropping them was “against the interest of the Government”.

However, no action has been initiated based on the report. Revealing this at a press conference here on Friday, Mr. Ramaswamy said that it is a clear instance of how the land mafia continues to get away with encroachment of prime government land in connivance with politicians and the top bureaucracy.

The documents show that all the cases were dropped in 2009 and 2010 on the orders of the Special Deputy Commissioner, Ramanjaneya, who had been caught by the Lokayukta.

He had exercised his quasi-judicial powers in dropping the cases, even though the guidelines demand that it cannot be done in an arbitrary manner without verifying the original documents, Mr. Ramaswamy said.

Anonymous said...

lokpal to the rescue!

what is pakistan's answer?

Haseeb said...

Dear Salman and Riaz,
I agree with your assessments of the situation. What I don't understand though is that how come this outcome was not clear to Pakistanis when they voted for PPP, MQM and ANP????
I also find it very perplexing that many of us are quick to condemn Military but not willing to condemn MQM and PPP.
If everyone in Pakistan and Karachi now knows who is the culprit, then I should expect that in next elections none of these big three will get any votes. That is what logic says but I am sure these thugs will get votes and will be put in charge again to rape the country again :-((
We are all bigots. We have no sense of fairness. We just want to vote based on the biases, not on facts. We don't vote for the benefit of Pakistan. We vote to satisfy our meanness and prejudice.
With this kind of attitudes we deserve these thug rulers and have no right to complain when they loot, kill and rape.

Riaz Haq said...

Haseeb: "We are all bigots. We have no sense of fairness. We just want to vote based on the biases, not on facts."

I heard Mohammad Hanif, a long-time ethnic Punjabi resident of Karachi and a celebrated NY Times best-selling author of the novel "A Case of Exploding Mangoes", recently describe and analyze Karachi problems on GeoTV's 50 Minutes.

He said, and I am paraphrasing, that Karachi has problems because the rest of Pakistan has problems...the problems of survival and lack of economic opportunity that force people from the KPK (NWFP) and Southern Punjab to migrate in large numbers to Karachi to seek better lives.

The result of uncontrolled migration is that the swelling population of Karachi has made it a very overcrowded place where everyone needs to find a place to live and get basic services like housing and that causes serious tensions.

Hanif said that these poor rural migrants have continued to pour in to Karachi by the thousands even in the midst of extreme violence during the month of Ramadan this year. They can get jobs paying better wages in Karachi than they can back home, and hope to send their kids to school and get better healthcare in local hospitals.

Anil said...

What you wrote about uncontrolled internal migration to Karachi is same in India for Mumbai. But there is no bloodshed in Mumbai of this magnitude. Perhaps the difference is hinduism.

Riaz Haq said...

Anil: "Perhaps the difference is hinduism."

"Peace-loving" Hindus are not immune to committing horrific ethnic, caste and religious violence as has been well documented by a number of researchers including Prof Paul Brass of Univ of Washington, Prof Donald L. Horowitz of Duke University and Prof Ashutosh Varshney of the University of Michigan.

As to comparing Mumbai with Karachi, let's understand the following:

1. Karachi is the largest city in the world. It has grown and continues to grow faster than Mumbai. Pakistan is already more urbanized than India, and continue to urbanize faster than India.

2. Mumbai has nothing like the gun culture that Karachi has because of the large presence of gun-loving Pashtuns who consider guns their jewelry.

Anil said...

""Peace-loving" Hindus are not immune to committing horrific ethnic, caste and religious violence as has been well documented by a number of researchers including Prof Paul Brass of Univ of Washington, Prof Donald L. Horowitz of Duke University and Prof Ashutosh Varshney of the University of Michigan.

So there must be news item daily about murderous hindus killing each other like roaches. Where is it? For Karachi and Pakistan, just visit dawn.

Anil said...

Things you will never read about Pakistan

So what's the difference between india and Pakistan when both people look same. Religion perhaps.

Riaz Haq said...

Anil: "So there must be news item daily about murderous hindus killing each other like roaches. Where is it? For Karachi and Pakistan, just visit dawn."

The Human Rights Watch has documented the following abuses of Dalits in India:

* Over 100,000 cases of rape, murder, arson, and other atrocities against Dalits are reported in India each year. Given that Dalits are both reluctant and unable (for lack of police cooperation) to report crimes against themselves, the actual number of abuses is presumably much higher.

* India's own agencies have reported that these cases are typically related to attempts by Dalits to defy the social order, or demand minimum wages and their basic human rights. Many of the atrocities are committed by the police. Even perpetrators of large-scale massacres have escaped prosecution.

* An estimated forty million people in India, among them fifteen million children, are bonded laborers, working in slave-like conditions in order to pay off a debt. A majority of them are Dalits.

* According to government statistics, an estimated one million Dalits are manual scavengers who clear feces from public and private latrines and dispose of dead animals; unofficial estimates are much higher.

* The sexual slavery of Dalit girls and women continues to receive religious sanction. Under the devadasi system, thousands of Dalit girls in India's southern states are ceremoniously dedicated or married to a deity or to a temple. Once dedicated, they are unable to marry, forced to become prostitutes for upper-caste community members, and eventually auctioned into an urban brothel.

Indian newspapers don't cover what the HRW has documented.

Nor do they talk much about the Sikh massacre of 1984, Muslim massacre of 2002, and Christian massacre of 2008.

And if Indian news reporters were honest, they'd report a lot more about Kashmir massacres and missing persons and mass graves in Kashmir.

Newspaper coverage in Pakistan focuses on what's happening now; it does not concern themselves with the historical figures of carnage in other parts of the world.

Riaz Haq said...

Anil: "So what's the difference between india and Pakistan when both people look same. Religion perhaps. "

And what you would not read about in the right-wing Hindu press are the facts about the high levels of poverty and hunger in Gujarat.

According to India State Hunger Index reported by IFPRI, Gujarat ranks worse than Hainti and many sub-Saharan African nations such as Burkina Faso.

And the latest World Bank poverty report on India shows Gujarat is much poorer than Pakistan, Cote D'Ivoire and Kenya.

Arshad said...

If ZM did not tell whole truth then how much truch he told? Can you tell to nation? Have you seen chakra goth videos? Have you seen videos of MQM terrorists. If not then you are hidding facts. Canada has already declared MQM a terrorist organization, see link in following comment. We should condemn equally all political parties (PPP,MQM,ANP) who have terrorist wings and invovle in killing of muslims (Urdu, sindhi and pushto speaking all are muslims). If some one is condeming only one party's terrorist then in my opinion, he is also terrorist. We should come forward and unite as muslim and condemn, PPP, MQM and ANP parties and bycott them in future because these parties are involve in killing of muslims

Riaz Haq said...

Arshad: "We should condemn equally all political parties (PPP,MQM,ANP) who have terrorist wings and invovle in killing of muslims (Urdu, sindhi and pushto speaking all are muslims)."

You are preaching to the choir. Just read the title of my post which refers to "gangster politicians of Karachi". It is not specific to one party or person. However, Mirza is no ordinary politician. He was until recently the provincial Home Minister who had the responsibility of maintaining peace in Karachi and he was maintaining criminal and murderous gangs instead. My point in the paragraph you refer to is that selective truths he offered is no truth at all because it is clearly intended to mislead the people.

Anwar said...

"2. Mumbai has nothing like the gun culture that Karachi has because of the large presence of gun-loving Pashtuns who consider guns their jewelry."
What a foolish comment. Most Pustoons who migrated to Karachi are rural folks - labor class who do not have guns.. When I started reading your post I had a feeling that you are out to defend the MQM thugs and finally, you just could not resist your xenophobic urges.

Riaz Haq said...

Anwar: "Most Pustoons who migrated to Karachi are rural folks - labor class who do not have guns.."

It's nonsense to suggest that rural Pashtuns do not carry guns. Do you think FATA Pashtuns and Afghan refugees who have migrated to Karachi are urban folks?

Have you not heard about the well-armed transport mafia in Karachi many of whom are originally from FATA?

And then there are also TTP sympathizers among them who are supporting the insurgency in FATA with funds from their businesses in Karachi.

There were few guns in Karachi and very little gun violence until the Afghan War of 1980s when the large Pashtun migration to Karachi began, and the guns became ubiquitous.

Instead of making bigoted comments accusing me of "xenophobic urges", please read and learn about the Pashtun migrants in Karachi. Let me suggest a recent book "Pakistan-A Hard Country" by Anatol Lieven.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting excerpt from a Friday Times story about the centrality of Karachi to the NATO war effort in Afghanistan, and how it impacts the politics and peace (or rather the lack of it) in Pakistan's financial capital:

"Over the years Karachi has become one of the most important cities of the world not because of its ethnic tensions but because of its strategic location and the port which receives more than 80 percent of NATO supplies," a senior foreign diplomat said. ...

Americans have built one of the largest consulates in the world in Karachi and have repeatedly used British diplomats to pressure MQM - one of the largest stakeholders in Karachi - to maintain peace in the city. According to one source, the ANP has huge stakes in NATO supplies and has strong influence among Karachi's transporters.

In Karachi, there are many third-tier sub-contractors working for NATO, most of them of Pashtun and Mehsud origin. They get contracts from second-tier sub-contractors from Dubai, who the contracts have been outsourced to from contractors in Washington, DC.

One such sub-contractor, Abdul Hakim Mehsud said, "Its one of the toughest jobs in the world - recently over 13 of my trucks and three of my drivers had been vanished in interior Sindh. But the profit margins are high and that keeps me motivated."
"In December 2008, militants destroyed 400 containers carrying food, fuel, and military vehicles," a NATO source said. After that, NATO and ISAF began paying tribes to ensure supplies get across safe.

Karachi's ethnic riots, political instability, and sectarianism have earned it the reputation of being the world's most dangerous city. In the last four years, over 5,000 people have been killed in politically-motivated violence. Not very long ago, it hosted Al Qaeda's operational headquarters. It is still considered by many as a Taliban stronghold.

In Karachi's chemical markets, ammonium nitrate is produced by fertiliser companies. While the chemical is on the Pakistani customs control list, it is widely available in open market. This ammonium nitrate is used in improvised explosive devices that account for 66 percent of foreign casualties in Afghanistan since the war started in 2001. The makeshift bombs have claimed 368 troops in 2010. This year, the number has already reached 143.

"We can deliver you big quantities of the chemical at the right price," said Ahmed Jan, a local smuggler, one of the few willing to speak on the record. "For a higher price we can deliver you the items in Afghanistan."

The US Consulate and Pakistani customs intelligence have been working closely to stop the smuggling.

Earlier this year, the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Commerce was informed that more than 6,000 trucks of NATO/ISAF supplies had not reached in Chaman and Iman Garh borders. The disclosure sparked an internal auditing within NLC and FBR and corruption of Rs7 billion was found. The FBR and NLC had reportedly issued notices to 21 and 22 grade officers and had put 100 of its officers and clearing/forwarding agents in the Exit Control List.

The attacks are not likely to stop any time soon, according to a foreign diplomat, "But we have made pacts with warlords, tribes and various stakeholders in Pakistan who ensure safe transit of the goods. They include political parties both in Pakistan and Afghanistan."

Riaz Haq said...

PM Gilani says "armed wings" of any party will not be tolerated, according to The Nation:

MULTAN - Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has declared that no armed wing of any political party will be tolerated but asserted that involvement of foreign hand in deterioration of situation in Karachi cannot be ruled out too.
He was talking to a delegation of senior journalists in Multan on Wednesday. The premier, who had come to his native town on a two-day visit, flew back to Islamabad Thursday noon.
Gilani said that the government had decided to take strict action against those found involved in terrorism. He said that an indiscriminate action would be launched against criminals and ‘qabza mafia’, extortionists and terrorists to crush them all. He issued a warning to land grabbers, asking them to vacate state lands within one month.
Replying to a question on MQM, he said that he could not say anything at this point on whether or not MQM would rejoin government but MQM was a reality. “Now we’re going to adopt measures with the cooperation of MQM, ANP and JI to restore peace in Karachi,” he said.

Anonymous said...

Mr Riaz Haq

Just Today there is a news that Mr Zulfiqar Mirza who Made those sensational disclosures on Television with a Holy Quran in his hands ; that HE HIMSELF has distributed THREE LAKH gun Licences to his own Community

Mr Mirza was addressing his supporters and said if he is killed then his supporters must kill THOUSANDS of the ENEMY supporters

Now if we add the Guns of MQM and ANP then there are LAKHS of Guns floating around

And this cycle of violence and revenge will carry on

Anonymous said...

Jalal said...

I agree that it is a game being played by all stake holders in Karachi, PPP - MQM - ANP and the government, to downplay the other. Mirza is only one segment. He should be interrogated to bring out the "truth" he wants us to know. Likewise MQM, ANP and PPP should also be grilled to let out their secrets and even handed action be taken against all criminals. The frequent leaving-joining hide and seek played by MQM speaks of some hidden arrangements that need to be unearthed too.
It is only then peace can return to Karachi.

MazHur said...

@ Riaz Haq ...

Anwar: "Most Pustoons who migrated to Karachi are rural folks - labor class who do not have guns.."

This is true....gun culture has been brought to Karachi by the Afghan refugees garbed as Pathans.
However, when provoked some Pathan groups do have the capability to react with almost equal force. Were this not so not a single Pathan would have survived during the recent (or previous) ethnic rampages by other ethnic group against them. The fact is that Pathans in Karachi are becoming an 'equalizing force' of which the major ethnic group here is afraid of! I agree with Anwar inso far as his observations about common Pakhtuns in Karachi is concerned.

Haq: Have you not heard about the well-armed transport mafia in Karachi many of whom are originally from FATA?

Maz:This could be said about the Punjab transport mafia as well. Why blame Pathans if others can't do the job??

Haq: And then there are also TTP sympathizers among them who are supporting the insurgency in FATA with funds from their businesses in Karachi.

Maz: Partly true..and why shouldn't they do it when other ethnic majority wants to cut their throats??

Haq: There were few guns in Karachi and very little gun violence until the Afghan War of 1980s when the large Pashtun migration to Karachi began, and the guns became ubiquitous.

Maz: even before that the major ethnic group in Karachi and Hyderabad had announced its policy, viz, sell your VCR's and buy Klashnikovs!! This policy alone became the root cause of all the disaster in urban Sindh.

Haq:: Instead of making bigoted comments accusing me of "xenophobic urges", please read and learn about the Pashtun migrants in Karachi. Let me suggest a recent book "Pakistan-A Hard Country" by Anatol Lieven.

Maz: books just depict their writers opinion with cherry-picked's useless to waste time reading them instead of pronouncing your own practical observations and experience while living among the ridden folks.

Riaz Haq said...

MazHur: "it's useless to waste time reading them instead of pronouncing your own practical observations and experience while living among the ridden folks. "

It just shows your disdain for fact-based research and your avoidance of the need to have independent and objective analyses rather than subjective opinions in complex situations where human beings are involved.

There's always lot more to underlying reality than meets the eye of a casual observer.

If anecdotal observations sufficed, there would be no need for in-depth data-intensive research done by social scientists to understand cultures and social behaviors of different groups in different settings.

Anwar said...

"It just shows your disdain for fact-based research and your avoidance of the need to have independent and objective analyses rather than subjective opinions in complex situations where human beings are involved." Riaz - you are truly amamzing.

Following is the copy of Daily Times Editorial...
"The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) tried to appease the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) by ignoring its criminal activities ever since it came to power in 2008. This policy annoyed Sindhi nationalists and the PPP’s own Sindhi constituency. It was in this context that PPP’s leader Zulfiqar Mirza gave up all party and government positions in protest and lashed out at the MQM and Interior Minister Rehman Malik. There is no doubt that the surgical operation being conducted in Karachi should be across the board and should target all those responsible for the breakdown of law and order in the city. Criminal gangs working side by side with different political parties should be nailed and penalised. The MQM was the party that initiated a trend of terrorist wings and torture cells in Karachi. Other political parties followed suit in order to counter the MQM’s dominance. So far, MQM-dominated areas have not been targeted by the law enforcement agencies. It is time the government forgets about annoying the MQM and does something for the public instead. Interestingly, Prime Minister Gilani asked land grabbers to vacate state land worth trillions of rupees within a month. Mr Gilani said, “People of the country in general and the people of Sindh in particular stood up against the land grabbers, extortionists, and terrorists and they would not rest till these criminals are eliminated from the province.” It is beyond comprehension why the prime minister is appealing to the land grabbers to vacate state land instead of ensuring that they do so by taking strict action against them. The people of Karachi have already suffered a lot at the hands of criminals and now they want some reprieve. Peace in Sindh, particularly in Karachi, can only be restored once the government decides to nab all those responsible for terrorising the people."
Do inform the editor that you are championing other rascals..

Riaz Haq said...

Anwar: "Do inform the editor that you are championing other rascals.. "


The title of my post says it all: "Gangster Politicians of Karachi".

Having aid that, let me make it clear that having Zulfikar Mirza as home minister was like appointing a fox to guard the chicken coup.

ZM is a racist and terrorist thug who should be prosecuted for sponsoring criminal and murderous gangs in Lyari that tortured and killed innocent people and dumped their bodies in sacks to terrorize the people of Karachi.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts (Part 2) from Wikileaks on the "Gangs of Karachi":
.... If rhetoric of the police and the ANP leadership is to be believed, these armed elements may be preparing to challenge MQM control of Karachi. In March, the Karachi Police Special Branch submitted a report to the Inspector General of Police in which it mentioned the presence of \"hard-line\" Pashtuns in the Sohrab Goth neighborhood. Sohrab Goth is located in the Northeast of the city.

8. (S) The report said this neighborhood was becoming a no-go
area for the police. The report went on to claim the Pashtuns are involved in drug trafficking and gun running and
if police wanted to move in the area they had to do so in civilian clothing. A senior member of the Intelligence Bureau in Karachi recently opined that the ANP would not move
against MQM until the next elections, but the police report ANP gunmen are already fighting MQM gunmen over
protection-racket turf.
10. (S) PPP is a political party led by, and centered on the Bhutto family. The party enjoys significant support in
Karachi, especially among the Sindhi and Baloch populations. Traditionally, the party has not run an armed wing, but the workers of the PPP do possess weapons, both licensed and unlicensed. With PPP in control of the provincial government and having an influential member in place as the Home Minister, a large number of weapons permits are currently being issued to PPP workers. A police official recently told
Post that he believes, given the volume of weapons permits being issued to PPP members, the party will soon be as
well-armed as MQM. Gangs in Lyari: Arshad Pappoo (AP) and Rahman Dakait (RD)
11. (S) AP and RD are two traditional criminal gangs that
have been fighting each other since the turn of the century in the Lyari district of Karachi. Both gangs gave their political support to PPP in the parliamentary elections. The
gangs got their start with drug trafficking in Lyari and later included the more serious crimes of kidnapping and robbery in other parts of Karachi. (Comment: Kidnapping is such a problem in the city that the Home Secretary once asked Post for small tracking devices that could be planted under
the skin of upper-class citizens and a
satellite to track the devices if they were kidnapped. End comment.)

12. (S) Each group has only about 200 hard-core armed fighters but, according to police, various people in Lyari
have around 6,000 handguns, which are duly authorized through valid weapons permits. In addition, the gangs are in
possession of a large number of unlicensed AK-47 rifles,
Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers and hand grenades. The weapons are carried openly and used against each other as
well as any police or Rangers who enter the area during security operations. During police incursions, the gang
members maintain the tactical advantage by using the narrow streets and interconnected houses. There are some parts of Lyari that are inaccessible to law enforcement agencies...

Haseeb said...

Riaz: "Very
few of the groups are traditional criminal gangs. Most are associated with a political party, a social movement, or terrorist activity, and their presence in the volatile ethnic mix of the world,s fourth largest city creates enormous political and governance challenges."

What Altaf Hussain is doing to fix this problem? He can do his part for sure, of course, if he is not a problem himslef.

Riaz Haq said...

Haseeb: "What Altaf Hussain is doing to fix this problem? He can do his part for sure, of course, if he is not a problem himslef."

Why don't you pose this question to Altaf (MQM), Zulfiqar (PPP) and Shahi (ANP) directly? I can only guess, but each of them would either deny having armed gangs, or refuse to disarm unilaterally.

I think the best way of defusing the escalating gang warfare on a more permanent basis is by orchestrating multilateral disarmament for more lasting peace for the sake of Pakistan, not just for Karachi.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting comparison between the coffee elite of Central America and sugar elite of Pakistan by Dr. Adeel Malik in The News:

In his famous book, Coffee and Power, Jeffrey Paige provides a vivid illustration of how a single commodity, coffee, is sufficient to explain the power structure of Central America. Despite the varying political complexions of its regimes, Central America has one thing in common: they are all ruled by coffee elites. For decades, Central America's coffee elites have thrived on state patronage, rent seeking, and distortion of private markets. As Jeffrey Paige concludes, these elites have generated in this process "unprecedented wealth for the few at the expense of the general impoverishment of the many". Despite this, the coffee elites have been remarkably resilient in Central America, surviving periods of both revolutions and authoritarian rule.

In terms of its links with political power, sugar is Pakistan's parallel for coffee. Sugar industry is Pakistan's second largest agro-based industry. Its linkage with politics, patronage and protection sets it apart from other industries. Available evidence suggests that it is economically inefficient, enjoys one of the highest rates of protection, and is dominated by a small number of political influential owners, making it an excellent illustration of the interconnection between business and politics. The analysis of sugar markets in Pakistan, and their manipulation therefore opens up a fascinating window into how the economic interests of our political elites are strongly entrenched in the current power structure. The operation of sugar markets in Pakistan offers a telling story of how both markets and public policy are routinely captured by vested political interests.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report about a tough Karachi cop:

If the lucky really have nine lives, then Chaudhry Aslam Khan, Karachi's toughest policeman, is fast running out of his.

One morning in September, Aslam was sleeping when powerful shockwaves rippled through his house. Falling out of bed, he discovered that a Taliban suicide bomber had rammed a van into his front gate, with devastating consequences.

The blast sheared off the entire front of his palatial home. Windows were shattered across Defence, one of the city's most pricey neighbourhoods. And eight people lay dead: policemen, house guards and a mother and child who had been strolling to school.

Stepping through the rubble and blood, Aslam, who had survived eight previous attempts on his life, helped load the dead and injured into ambulances. (Miraculously, his own family was largely unhurt.) Then he turned to face the media with an extraordinary message of defiance.

"I will bury the attackers right here," he told the cameras, pointing to the two-metre-deep bomb crater, and vowing to launch his own "jihad" against his assailants. "I didn't know the terrorists were such cowards. Why don't they attack me in the open?" Then, sleepless and smeared in dust, he turned on his heel and went back to work.

Crime-fighting in Karachi, a sprawling seaside metropolis racked by a witch's brew of violence – ethnic, political, religious, criminal – has never been easy. So far this year, more than 400 people have died in shootings linked to a political power struggle. A surge in Taliban violence pumped the death toll further.

Few know the dark streets as well as Aslam, a grizzled police veteran of 27 years' experience. Profane, chain-smoking and usually armed with a Glock pistol, he has earned a controversial reputation as Karachi's version of Dirty Harry – the cop who will do whatever it takes to keep the peace.
Last year, they killed Rehman Dakait, a legendary Baloch gangster, in self defence in what was described as a shootout on the city limits. The dead man's relatives have another version: that he was arrested, tortured and shot in cold blood – circumstances Pakistanis euphemistically refer to as an "encounter". It was not the first such accusation against Aslam: he spent 18 months in jail in 2006 after being accused of killing an innocent man; a superior court later cleared him.

Working from an unmarked compound with military-style defences, Aslam roams Karachi at night in an armoured jeep. Protection comes from a team of heavily armed officers, many of whom resemble the gangsters they are pursuing: like their boss, they do not wear uniforms.

He typically works through the night because, he says, "that's when the criminals are out and about". He is proud of his gunslinging reputation. He has earned 45m rupees (£325,000) in government rewards over the years, he says, producing copies of the cheques to prove it.
Although flamboyant, Aslam is by no means unique among Pakistani police. A 2008 report by the International Crisis Group said they had "a well-deserved reputation for corruption, high-handedness and abuse of human rights". Officers retort that they are under-resourced (Karachi has 26,000 officers for perhaps 18 million people) and labour under a sickly criminal justice system with a conviction rate of 5-10%.

And, in a city where crime, politics and ethnicity are inter-connected, police suffer from massive interference: even junior appointments are controlled by politicians who pressure officers to go easy on their favourite gangsters. "It's a totally politicised force," admitted Sharifuddin Memon, an adviser to the provincial home minister...............

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on "Karachi-The Musical" drawing large audiences in Karachi:

KARACHI: A hit musical about gangland violence in Pakistan’s largest metropolis is bidding to revive Karachi’s once-rich stage culture while shedding light on its grim addiction to violence.

Fierce sectarian and ethnic conflicts have been responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 people this year alone and are an all-too-familiar tale to Karachi’s 18 million residents.

But the gritty realism portrayed in “Karachi – The Musical” has nevertheless provoked a huge response, playing to large audiences since it began in October for a month-long run due to finish on November 13.

It tells the story of a rookie boxer from the eastern city of Multan who comes to train at a boxing club in Karachi’s notorious Lyari neighbourhood – better known for its mafias than its sporting talent.

The ambitions of the protagonist, Saif Salaam, spark tensions between his coach and Daud Islam, a mafia don who controls the local gambling, drugs and prostitution rings and wants to thwart the boxer’s success.

With many twists and turns in the story set to a dozen songs, Daud attempts to kill Salaam, just as he had murdered another rising star 20 years earlier.

Mirroring grim realities on Karachi’s streets, the mafioso Daud is only stopped from killing the boy thanks to the intervention of another bad man – a more powerful don whose influence reaches higher into the corridors of power.

“It depicts the situation which we are facing nowadays,” said one theatre-goer, Aleem Akhtar.

“We are infested with mafias and gangs of killers and every mafia is well protected, so we can survive only with the blessings of some good bad men.”

The director of the first original musical to grace the city said that the show represented a defence against the very harshness it was based on.

“Today, art needs more support than ever in Pakistan because it is not only a reflection of the times we live in, but also of a brighter future we can create,” said Nida Butt.

“Theatre is not for the faint-hearted – it’s a labour of love, long hours and hard work that often results in more (money) spent than earned,” she added.

The once-thriving stage scene in Karachi, which was known for its opera before the partition of British India to create Pakistan in 1947, was lost largely due to the growing Islamisation of the country, say artists.

They particularly point the finger at military dictator General Zia-ul Haq, blaming him for worsening the gun and drug culture, encouraging sectarian and ethnic parties and crushing liberal forces during his 1977-1988 rules.

Art began losing its way under Zia’s predecessor Ayub Khan, they say, but it crumbled as culture became an early casualty of Zia’s regime, which nurtured religious fanaticism.

Syed Ahmed Shah, who heads the Karachi Arts Council and whose theatre is staging the production, says his organisation is the only one with a dedicated auditorium for plays and theatrical performances in Pakistan’s biggest city.

“Our resolve is to fully revive the city’s old cultural status so that it is here to stay,” he said.

“Particularly in a situation where fear and anxiety are the order of the day. Culture is the only remedy to rely on,” he said.

Hamza Jafri, who composed the original scores, said that “Karachi – The Musical” drew on the various strands of the city’s musical culture – a mix of rock opera, indigenous beats and big band jazz.

“The music is edgy, contemporary and completely inspired by our research into Lyari and the boxing gangs there. The songs talk about us, about Karachi and our lives in this city today,” he said..........

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' story about soccer offering hope for poor slum kids in Karachi:

In the heart of one of Pakistan's most dangerous neighborhoods in the teeming city of Karachi, soccer pitches are keeping vulnerable teenagers from joining abundant gangs, kidnappers and extortion rackets.

Dozens of hard-scrabble soccer clubs give youngsters with few chances for education or work the opportunity to get off the streets and even dream of getting a nod to join a national team or a semi-professional club.

"There is so much talent in Lyari. It can be a great way of keeping these kids away from drugs and street crime especially if they are well paid and rewarded," said Yacoob Baloch, a soccer coach at one of the clubs.

Pakistan, a strategic U.S. ally, spends less than 2 percent of its gross domestic product on education which translates into a lack of skills needed to find work for much of the young population of the country of nearly 180 million.

Pakistan's police and security forces also lack funds, making it easy for criminals to thrive in Lyari, a densely populated area in Karachi with dilapidated buildings, potholed streets and raw sewage.

More than 1,600 people were killed in Karachi last year in either political and sectarian violence or by drug dealers, mafia hitmen and extortionists, marking the worst bloodshed since the army was called in to ease street battles in the 1990s.

But soccer has proven to be a way out of the chaos for some.

"Because of my focus on football, my mind has never wandered off to other things like drugs or violence," said Muneer Aftab, 15, who led Pakistan to victory in the under-16 South Asian Football Federation Championships in 2011, defeating arch-rival India.

"Playing football runs in my blood. I just want to play forever."

But for people like Aftab, there is only limited time to practice and usually only after being worn down by the daily grind in the sprawling city of 18 million on the Arabian Sea.

He wakes up at the crack of dawn to play soccer, goes to school during the day and helps his father who drives a rickshaw along Karachi's chaotic streets, and goes back to the soccer pitch at night.

"I know I am chasing my dream. But it's not easy," said Aftab, well-built, dark-skinned and shy.


Soccer has become a big hit in Lyari, no small feat because cricket is by far the most popular sport in Pakistan. There are 98 registered soccer clubs, 11 football grounds and two stadiums in Lyari, home to over 600,000 people.

If a player gets recognized in Lyari, not only the national team comes into sight, but also the chance to play for teams sponsored by corporations and banks that pay players a monthly salary.

The National Bank of Pakistan, for instance, gives Aftab 10,000 rupees ($111) a month to play in the semi-professional league.

During the last soccer World Cup, violence dropped sharply in Lyari. Residents gathered in the evening to watch matches on projector screens, a welcome change in a place where nighttime usually means gang warfare and abductions.

Ahmed Jan, a local coach and stadium manager, said Karachi's exposure to the sport began in the late 1950s.

Ships from Europe docked at the port. Sailors interacted with boys who worked as laborers and introduced them to soccer and kicked a few balls around.,0,5846553.story

Riaz Haq said...

Here's PakistanToday on Mehsuds and Kakakhels in Karachi:

KARACHI - The Taliban have occupied several areas in Karachi following a cold war between two Pakhtun tribes, Mehsud and Kakakhel, for ownership of Pakhtun strongholds in the city, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The Mehsud tribe has taken control of several Pakhtun strongholds where the banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has established its network.
The fire at New Sabzi Mandi on Super Highway, one of the Asia’s largest fruits and vegetables market, was also a result of ownership dispute between the two tribes. Reportedly, the Taliban wanted the control of the vegetable market, which observes business of billion of rupees daily. There were reports of the Taliban uprising in the outskirts of the city, mainly the Super Highway. Earlier, both tribes were working under the political party – which claims to represent the Pakhtun living in Karachi. Later, the Mehsud tribe parted ways with the party and started occupying Pakhtun areas with the Taliban’s help.
“A cold war has been started between two Pakhtun tribes which has damaged the party structure,” said a party leader, requesting not to be named.
“From Sohrab Goth to Manghopir, Taliban have taken control of Pakhtun areas and established their system there which not only destroyed party structure, but also earned bad name for us,” he added.
“The war started after a clash of interest between the two tribes and later the Mehsud tribe abandoned the party and joined hands with the Taliban to establish a TTP network,” he claimed.
“From Sohrab Goth to Toll Plaza, Taliban have set their network and removed party flags from these areas, but we are still resisting against these elements in Al-Asif Square,” he said.
“We are in a fix because we have to secure the Pakhtun living in those areas which were occupied by Taliban with the help of Mehsud,” he noted.
“The [Sabzi Mandi] fire started from a hotel which is 200 yards away from my shop and there is open ground but how it captured the shop it is beyond my thinking,” Salahuddin, a crate maker, told Pakistan Today.
“The wind was also blowing from east to west of the market but how it engulfed the eastern part of the market it could be imagined,” Salahuddin added.
“The people belonging to different tribes of KP are working in the market but the Mehsud tribe dominates the market,” All Vegetable Tajir Biradari Alliance (AVTBA) Chairman Haji Syed Abdul Razzak Shah said.
“People of many tribes of KP are working in the market but Mehsud and Kakakhel have made their clear representation in the market so far,” he added.
“Apparently, there is no war going on between the two tribes in the market but one thing is sure that the market was set on fire as per plan, Shah said, adding that we do not have proves against anyone that’s why we cannot held anyone responsible for this blaze.”
“We can say that fire in the market was result of ownership dispute between Mehsud and Kakakhel tribe as the market is situated next to Faqeera Goth where both groups are undergoing in a cold war,” Rehman Khan, another leader of (AVTBA) said.
“I am resident of Faqeera Goth too and there were reports about some people who tried to close barber and computer shops,” Khan added.
“Few years back, some people started working for TTP in the area, but they were killed in police encounters,” Gadap Town SP Javed Iqbal Bhatti claimed...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Beast Op Ed by former British PM Gordon Brown on TTP attacks against schoolgirls and teacher in Pakistan:

As pupils gathered early on Saturday to receive exam results, grenades were hurled into the Baldia town school in Karachi, causing carnage. Principal Abdur Rasheed died on the spot. The perpetrators are thought to be from TPP, a Taliban terrorist sect, as their campaign of violence against girls education moves from the tribal areas into Pakistan's largest city.

The latest attack follows the murder earlier this week in the Khyber tribal district of Shahnaz Nazli, a 41-year-old teacher gunned down in front of one of her children only 200 meters from the all-girls school where she taught. But this time the wave of terror attacks – orchestrated by opponents of girls' education – is provoking a domestic and international response, a groundswell of public revulsion similar to that which followed the attempted assassination of Malala Yousefvai, who was also shot simply for wanting girls to go to school.

Today, on top of a a petition now circulating on calling for a cessation of violence against teachers who are defending the right of girls to go to school, a scholarship fund in honor of the slain Shahnaz Nazli is being announced. Education International, the world teachers organization with 30 million members, has said that the scholarship memorial to Shahnaz will support Pakistan teachers and students victimized simply because of their support for girls' schooling.

The petition and the memorial signal a fight back against attempts to ban girls’ education, and come in the wake of the intervention of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who, in a special communique, has spoken out against the shooting of Shahnaz and given his personal support to teachers persecuted for their advocacy of girls’ education.

This week's attacks are, however, a stark reminder to the world of the persistence of threats, intimidation, shootings, arson attacks and sometimes even murder that are the Taliban’s weapons in a war against girls’ opportunity.

Last October, shocked by the attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai and pressured by a petition signed by three million people, the Pakistani government agreed for the first time to legislate compulsory free education and provided stipends for three million children.

Now authorities in Pakistan are under international pressure to deploy their security services to ensure the safety and protection of teachers and girls trying to go to school.

Last October’s demonstrations were a spontaneous response from girls who identified with Malala’s cause as she fought for her life in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Now these girls are being joined by a high-profile campaign by teachers themselves, determined, despite the threat to their lives, to stand up for girls' education and to take their campaign even to the most dangerous of places

But as the forthcoming teachers’ initiative and the the UN Secretary General’s vocal support both demonstrate, the voices in favor of these basic rights for girls cannot any longer be silenced. And because this is a movement that is now being forged at the grassroots by girls demanding their human rights and by teachers organizing in support of them, 2013, which has started with so many violent attacks on girls schools, can still become the year when the cause of universal girls education becomes unstoppable.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some wikileaks US embassy cable excerpts on Karachi gang violence:

MQM (Muttahida Quami Movement)

2. (S) The MQM is an ethnic political party of the Urdu
speaking community (known as \”Mohajirs,\” which is Arabic for
immigrants) that migrated from India at the time of
partition; Mohajirs make up around fifty percent of the total
population in Karachi. MQM is middle-class, avowedly
secular, and anti-extremist (the only party to publicly
protest the recent Swat Nizam-e-Adl regulations). It has a
long history of clashes with the Pakistan People,s Party
(PPP), which controls the Sindh province in which Karachi is
located, and with the Awami National Party (ANP), which
represents MQM,s rival ethnic Pashtuns.

3. (S) MQM\’s armed members, known as \”Good Friends,\” are the
largest non-governmental armed element in the city. The
police estimate MQM has ten thousand active armed members and

as many as twenty-five thousand armed fighters in reserve.

This is compared to the city\’s thirty-three thousand police
officers. The party operates through its 100 Sector
Commanders, who take their orders directly from the party
leader, Altaf Hussain, who lives in exile in the United
Kingdom. The Sector Commanders plan and monitor the...
ANP (Awami National Party – Peoples National Party)
——————————————— ——

6. (S) The ANP represents the ethnic Pashtuns in Karachi.
The local Pashtuns do possess personal weapons, following the
tribal traditions of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP),
and there are indications they have begun to organize formal
armed groups. With the onset of combat operations in the


7. (S) If rhetoric of the police and the ANP leadership is to
be believed, these armed elements may be preparing to

challenge MQM control of Karachi. In March, the Karachi

Police Special Branch submitted a report to the Inspector
General of Police in which it mentioned the presence of
\”hard-line\” Pashtuns in the Sohrab Goth neighborhood. Sohrab

Goth is located in the Northeast of the city.
ST (Sunni Tehrik – Sunni Movement)

9. (S) ST is a small religious/political group with a
presence in small pockets of Karachi. The group has only
managed to win a handful of council seats in local elections
but militarily it is disproportionably powerful because of
the influx of MQM-H gunmen after the government crack-down on
MQM-H (see above). ST has organized the party and its gunmen
along the lines of MQM by dividing its areas of influence
into sectors and units, with sector and unit commanders. ST
and MQM have allegedly been killing each other\’s leadership
since the April 2006 Nishtar Park bombing that killed most of
ST\’s leadership. ST blames MQM for the attack. There
appears to have been a reduction in these targeted killings
since 2008.

PPP (Pakistan People\’s Party)

10. (S) PPP is a political party led by, and centered on the
Bhutto family. The party enjoys significant support in
Karachi, especially among the Sindhi and Baloch populations.

Gangs in Lyari: Arshad Pappoo (AP) and Rahman Dakait (RD)
——————————————— ————

11. (S) AP and RD are two traditional criminal gangs that

have been fighting each other since the turn of the century
in the Lyari district of Karachi. Both gangs gave their
political support to PPP in the parliamentary elections. The
gangs got their start with drug trafficking in Lyari and
later included the more serious crimes of kidnapping and
robbery in other parts of Karachi. (Comment: Kidnapping is
such a problem in the city that the Home Secretary once asked
Post for small tracking devices that could be planted under
the skin of upper-class citizens and a satellite to track the
devices if they were kidnapped. End comment.)

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on growing Taliban violence in Karachi:

For years there have been fears that the Taliban were gaining ground in Pakistan's commercial capital, the port city of Karachi. There is now evidence that the militants' influence in the city has hit alarming new levels, reports the BBC's Ahmed Wali Mujeeb.

More than 20 people are gathered outside a ramshackle house in a suburb of Karachi - Pakistan's largest city.

They say a plot of land, which was the property of a local businessman, was forcibly occupied by a local mafia last September, and they are here to complain.

The difference now - and a source of much alarm to those in the know - is that this group of Karachi residents are choosing to bring their complaint to the Taliban.

After a two-hour session, the Taliban judge adjourns the hearing to another date and venue which he says will be disclosed shortly before the hearing.

This mobile Taliban court does not limit its interests to this one shanty town on the outskirts of Karachi. It has been arbitrating disputes across many suburbs in the metropolis.

The Taliban largely emerged in poor areas on the fringes of the city, run-down places with little or no infrastructure for health, education and civic amenities.

Their mobile courts have been hearing complaints for quite some time, but in recent months they have also started administering punishments - a sign of their growing clout.

In January, they publicly administered lashes to an alleged thief after recovering stolen goods from him. The goods were returned to the owner who had reported the theft.
Suburban Taliban

But the picture is complicated.

There is a tussle under way between mafia groups (becoming more prolific and powerful in Karachi) who seek to seize land and militant groups who are also grabbing land. This includes the Taliban, for all their willingness to arbitrate in these disputes.

It is clear that they want to tighten their grip in Pakistan's biggest city, its commercial centre. And they appear to have great influence in those suburbs dominated by the Pashtun ethnic group.

These include many of the districts on the edge of the highways and roads leading to neighbouring Balochistan province.

And when they think their authority is being encroached on, they act with deadly force: The MQM lawmaker Syed Manzar Imam was killed by Taliban gunmen in January in Orangi town, which borders a Pashtun area.

One former leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) - a party of the ethnic Pashtun nationalists - recently left Karachi and said more than 25 of his party offices had been forced to close because of threats from the Taliban.

A senior police officer who does not wish to be named told me simply: "Taliban are swiftly extending their influence.

"There needs to be a strategy to stem the Taliban's rise, otherwise the city will lose other important and central parts to them," he says.
Taliban 'gangs'

Muhammad Usman is a 26-year-old Taliban commander from the Swat valley. He came to Karachi after the Pakistani army started an operation in Swat in 2009.

He says he was first part of a group of Swati Taliban in Karachi and was offered shelter and safety by them.

After some time, he gradually got involved in what...
Karachi's network of violence

Intelligence sources say that there is one Taliban chief for the city, and heads of groups operating in different areas answer to him.

"Though the government has expressed its resolve to eradicate militancy, other state institutions are not co-operating," analyst Professor Tauseed Ahmed Khan says.

He argues that the security forces are losing morale when it comes to the battle against the militant groups and adds that this is not improved when rebels find it easy to get released on bail by the courts.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's The Economist on gangs of Lyari in Karachi:

CIVILIANS armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s firing at police in armoured personnel carriers are not images associated with the urban hearts of commercial capitals. But Karachi is no ordinary city. Earlier this month its crime-infested quarter of Lyari, a sprawling network of alleyways housing 1m people, saw battles that pitted police against a powerful local gang. In one scene locals flattened a carrier's tyres with gunfire. Then they kept firing at the stationary vehicle, killing an officer inside.

The 31 people who were killed, in addition to five policemen, were mainly innocents caught in the crossfire and included a seven-year-old. For a week residents were besieged. They had little access to food, water or power, as shops shut down and the battle had damaged infrastructure. Then a defeated government called the operation off. The police promised to return after 48 hours, but never showed up again. A senior police official was close to tears when he explained that the gangsters wielded weapons that law-enforcers did not know they possessed.

The Lyari violence highlights the complicated relationship between crime and politics in Karachi. Political parties are organised along ethnic or sectarian lines, and represent the city's Urdu-speakers, Sindhis, Baloch, Pashtuns and Barelvi Sunnis. In turf wars over neighbourhoods, they attack each other's activists and ordinary folk alike. (This week indiscriminate firing on a Sindhi rally killed 11 people.) When deaths exceed a handful a day, the commercial capital grinds to a halt. It is this violence, rather than Islamist extremism, that holds Karachi hostage.

Political parties coexist with criminal gangs, tacitly supporting some and actually controlling others. Lyari's dominant gangsters, the People's Aman Committee (PAC), have traditionally lent their support to the country's ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP). Yet police appear to have launched the Lyari operation because some members of the ruling party had developed a rivalry with elements of the PAC. The rundown district has long been a bastion of the PPP, which had put up with or worked with Lyari gangsters for decades. But its neglect of the area has strengthened the PAC, especially once the gang started providing social services. “This operation was political victimisation,” claims Zafar Baloch, the racket's second-in-command. “The people of Lyari have supported the PPP for 40 years, but when we spoke out against the lack of development here we were targeted.”

Karachi politics plays out at the expense of civilian lives. It did not hurt that the police operation would have pleased the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a coalition partner, at a time when opposition parties are campaigning for the resignation of the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani. The MQM (also involved in extortion in Karachi) complained that the government was targeting its people while letting the PAC get away with crime.

But perhaps what makes the Lyari operation typical of Karachi was how, just as it was escalating into a policing and humanitarian disaster, it suddenly came to a halt. Since then the PAC has not retaliated. Perhaps some unpublicised bargain has been struck. If so, that would be in line with the usual pattern of violence in the city. Karachi manages to hold together because bouts of brutal, though contained, violence are interspersed with dealmaking and calm. Imran Ayub, a journalist on the Karachi beat, thinks the PAC and the government will strike a bargain that preserves the PPP's Lyari constituency despite this disastrous operation. “This was no final showdown”, he says. In the context of Karachi's violence, it is sobering to think what a final showdown would look like.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on a PPP candidate seeking election from his jail cell in Karachi:

Pakistan's historic elections are just over a week away, but Shahjahan Baloch has still not hit the streets.

It is not that the 42-year-old official Pakistan Peoples party (PPP) candidate can't be bothered, on account of the fact that he is already certain to win in what is one of the party's most famous political strongholds – a Karachi slum called Lyari. Baloch's problem is that he has been in police custody for more than a year and faces two murder charges.

According to the police and his political enemies, Baloch is a gangland kingpin directly associated with a banned gang, the People's Amn Committee (PAC), which has supplanted the old order in a constituency formerly seen as the political backyard of the late prime minister Benazir Bhutto's family.

The police say Baloch's crimes have continued even while he has been behind bars. On Tuesday he was formally charged with ordering the murder of Arshad Pappu, a leading member of a rival gang, in March. A mob reportedly made up of well-known PAC men are said to have tortured Pappu, killed him, paraded his body around Lyari and played football with his head.

Even by Pakistani standards, where politicians are routinely accused of graft and corruption, the selection of an alleged gangster facing murder charges is a startling choice for such a safe seat.

It is particularly striking in Lyari, a seat the PPP had hoped would launch the parliamentary career of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Benazir and the current president, Asif Ali Zardari, thereby sustaining one of south Asia's most famous political dynasties for a third generation.

But with the PPP likely to be clobbered after five tumultuous years in government, during which the country has suffered terrorist violence, a weak economy and acute energy shortages, the party has been forced to strike unsavoury deals to shore up support – even with a man sitting in Karachi's Central Prison, a place normally associated with overcrowding and appalling conditions. "Jail is a good place if you have money or clout," Baloch told the Guardian over soft drinks in a visiting room in the jail, his only interview of the campaign so far. "For those who don't have that, it's hell."

He is likely to be released in a few months' time, not least as witnesses have been gradually withdrawing their evidence – a common occurrence in cases involving the gangs of Karachi.

A local councillor and owner of a cable television business, he says the charges were trumped up by the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), a bitter rival party in Karachi. Even the city's anti-terror prosecutor thinks the evidence against him is flimsy.

But his detractors allege that the man certain to be Lyari's next MP is closely involved in the economy of Lyari's criminal underworld, including gun trading and gambling dens. "He is not a murderer, but he is involved in collecting the money, the extortion and drug money, from his area," said Nabil Gabol, the former PPP MP for the area who defected to the MQM, he says, because of "the criminals and gangs"......

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times Op on MQM Ed by Dr. Arif Alvi:

I’m Urdu speaking, my grandparents made a lot of sacrifices and migrated to Karachi, Pakistan, from India.

Karachi was a city of lights until nearly 30 years back when MQM started showing its true face. I will tell you how MQM works and I have experienced all of this myself. This is a very well-managed organisation, which works under a tight command and control mechanism. They have divided Karachi into a number of sectors; each sector is divided into units. The first tier is called the unit. There are MQM units in every nook and corner of Karachi. Every apartment complex has one unit, and nearly one in every 500 houses there is a unit. The units report to a particular sector under which they come. Each unit has a unit in-charge and other proper posts. As these guys live among us, they know each and every house and shop that comes under their supervision. The unit in-charge literally controls whatever goes within the jurisdiction of his unit. From cable persons reporting to him to the SHO of that area; everyone obeys that unit in-charge.

They snatch mobiles, get bhata from shops, get their students cheating in exams, confiscate hides on Eidul Azha and collect fitrana on Eidul Fitar, etc. The collections from units go into millions and collection from Karachi goes into billions. The units report and submit their loot to the sectors. Each unit in-charge has to sit in his sector on a frequent basis from where they get instructions. The sectors report to Nine Zero (90 is the address of the house of Altaf Hussain in Azizabad Karachi); this is the headquarters of the MQM. This is the reason why within minutes they can jam Karachi, as they just need to make one call from 90. The instructions go to sectors where they call units in-charge who have sufficient arms and ammunition. No Karachiite can stand in front of them, as they easily, and without mercy, kill. If they want to threaten someone, they write on their house wall “Jo Qaid ka ghaddaar hai woh mout ka haqdaar hai” (anyone who defies the ‘leader’ is liable to death).

Following in their footsteps, other parties, such as ANP, Aman committee of the PPP and Sunni Tehreek, now are doing the same. Sometime fighting starts over whose units will control the area. Karachi is a goldmine and everyone wants it. The people of Karachi, who are very patriotic, have to live in a constant fear. They cannot even carry a decent cell-phone in this city. They get looted at ATM machines and believe me that the people do not even decorate their houses nowadays during weddings, as they are afraid to come in the eyes of these bandits. Even now and then, there are strikes; children cry during the night due to gunfire, if a call is not for a strike, the call is for “Youm-e-Sog” (day of mourning), which in fact is another name for strike. One cannot imagine what Karachiites have to go through daily. One even gets afraid driving a car when a motorcycle passes nearby. The real disappointment is that everyone knows this, as this is so clear. ....

Riaz Haq said...

Take a look at this video showing Altaf Husain threatening to put a journalist in a "bori" (body bag).

Shams said...

And like all web postings you have your faith in, you believe video too. There is a photoshop-house in Model Town Lahore, funded by Nawaz and Imran, where videos like these are created every day.

Riaz Haq said...

Shams: "And like all web postings you have your faith in, you believe video too. There is a photoshop-house in Model Town Lahore, funded by Nawaz and Imran, where videos like these are created every day."

You are either naive or disingenuous in dismissing the video as fake.

The fact is Altaf Husain has Karachi's largest armed militia with 10,000 active armed men and another 25,000 in reserves as reported in a 2011 US diplomatic cable leaked by wikileaks.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a CPJ article on risks to journalists in Pakistan:

Among the more 200,000 Pakistanis living in London is Altaf Hussain, leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. This powerful political party is widely thought to be behind the murder of reporter Wali Khan Babar, a rising star at Geo TV who was shot dead in Karachi in 2011. His coverage focused on politically sensitive topics such as extortion, targeted killings, electricity thefts, land-grabbing, and riots.

Police arrested several suspects affiliated with the MQM, but the investigation into Babar's death fell apart when five people connected to the investigation--witnesses and law enforcement officials--were systematically murdered, one by one. The two original prosecutors were threatened and forced to flee the country.

The brutality of the Babar case was highlighted during a discussion in London on Friday of CPJ's special report, Roots of Impunity, which examined the unsolved murders of 23 Pakistani journalists over the past decade. The discussion, at Chatham House, featured the report's author, Elizabeth Rubin, and the Pakistani author and CPJ board member, Ahmed Rashid.

In Pakistan, the fear is such that journalists will not go on the record to speak about the MQM, Rubin said. She described a cycle of violence and impunity where journalists are targeted not only by militants, criminals, and warlords, but also by political, military, and intelligence operatives.

"They are caught in an undeclared war between the U.S. and Pakistan, or between the different factions in the country ... and until that is resolved, they will continue to pay," Rubin said.

Hostilities against journalists are nothing new in Pakistan. Rashid described the journalist imprisonments of past generations as having evolved into the targeted killings of today. At the same time, a traditionally weak civil society has forced the media to take on a primary role in investigating and denouncing social ills and official misdeeds. Journalists "are bribed, cajoled, threatened and ultimately even killed," said Rashid, who noted that the "war on terror" has left Pakistani authorities free to act with impunity against the press.

The root of the problem, Rashid said, is the government's dual policy of allowing the Taliban and other militant groups to operate freely even as they take part in international efforts to stem terrorism. This has given the Pakistani military and intelligence services an unlimited mandate with no accountability.

The issue extends beyond Pakistan's borders. Hussain's speeches from London are broadcast in full throughout Pakistan, Rashid said, who expressed dismay at "the stunning silence of the British government" regarding the MQM's violent activities and its involvement in the killing of Babar.

Rubin and Rashid expressed hope as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shapes a new agenda. The most important steps the government can take, said Rashid, are to reopen the cases of journalists killed with impunity and to make public the undisclosed investigative reports into those killings. One such report involves the killing of Hayatullah Khan, a freelance journalist who was kidnapped and found dead in 2006 after receiving threats from Pakistani security forces, Taliban members, and local tribesmen. The day before his abduction, Khan had photographed the remnants of a U.S. missile believed to have killed a senior Al-Qaeda figure, an image that contradicted Pakistan's official accounts of the killing.....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' report on political parties running extortion rackets in Karachi:

One afternoon a stranger called at Muhammad Faizanullah's stationery shop in Karachi, Pakistan's commercial capital, and wordlessly handed the man behind the counter two items: a piece of paper with a phone number scrawled on it, and a bullet.

"The letter contained a demand for 200,000 Pakistani rupees ($2,000)," Faizanullah, 20, said. "The man said 'Just call this number and pay the amount, otherwise the bullet is meant for you.'"

Businesses in Karachi are facing a surge in extortion demands from criminal gangs, forcing many owners to delay new investment or to relocate their families to escape the sense of insecurity gripping the urban heart of Pakistan's economy.


Karachi traders say paying extortion has long been part of the cost of doing business in Karachi.

The police say thugs working for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the dominant political party in Karachi, are the biggest extortion menace in the city.

The police have also linked other political parties to extortion, although the MQM and other parties in Karachi repeatedly deny any involvement.

In the past year, the rules of the game have changed as competing political parties, militant groups and criminal entrepreneurs intent on challenging MQM's grip on Karachi have expanded their extortion rackets to fund ever deadlier turf wars, police officials say.

The number of killings in Karachi jumped to more than 2,300 in 2012 from 1,700 the previous year. More than 1,400 murders have already been recorded since the start of this year. The increasing death toll has made it easier for gangs to coerce people into paying money, although there have been few reports of extortion-related killings.

"The extortion racket in Karachi has become an industry," said senior police officer Niaz Ahmed Khosa. "There are around 50 no-go areas in Karachi, which police can not enter. Most of the extortion rackets and other crime are being generated from these population pockets."

The police blame much of the increase in extortion on a criminal gang known as the People's Aman Committee (PAC), based in the district of Lyari, one of the police no-go areas, and which they say is expanding into new parts of the city. The gang, the police say, is linked to the Pakistan People's Party, which ruled Pakistan until its defeat at May general elections.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story on KESC performance in Karachi:

Since Pakistan’s biggest electricity company was privatized, its headquarters has been looted, its employees kidnapped and its boss nearly arrested by the government.

Despite all of that, it is regarded as a roaring success.

Power cuts lasting 12 hours a day or more have devastated the Pakistani economy. The loss of millions of jobs has fueled unrest in a nuclear-armed nation already beset by a Taliban insurgency.

The only city bucking the trend is the violent metropolis of Karachi, Pakistan’s financial heart — and that is thanks to Tabish Gauhar and his team at the Karachi Electricity Supply Co.

“It has consumed every ounce of my energy,” Mr. Gauhar, 42, said in an interview. “But we have helped millions of people.”

The new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif won an election in May partly because it had promised to fix the power cuts. Now many are wondering whether the Karachi utility’s successful privatization will be repeated elsewhere.

Pakistan’s power companies share similar problems. Workers are often corrupt, and influential families rarely pay bills. The government sells power below the cost of production but pays subsidies late or not at all. Plants cannot afford fuel.

At the state-run Peshawar Electricity Supply Co., the majority of workers are illiterate, most new hires are relatives of existing staff members, and 37 percent of the power generated was stolen, according to a 2011 audit funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Karachi Electricity Supply had all the same problems when the Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital bought a controlling stake in 2008. Mr. Gauhar and his Abraaj team decided to slash the work force by a third, cut off nonpayers and destroy illegal connections.
Many in the populist pro-labor government vilified the power company. Later, legislators tried to arrest Mr. Gauhar on charges that he had not attended subcommittee meetings in the capital.

After the protests dissipated, Karachi Electricity Supply’s next problem was making customers pay. More than a third of the company’s electricity was stolen in 2009. Those who got bills often ignored them.

One wealthy patriarch said he could not possibly start paying because his colleagues would think he had no influence left.

Karachi Electricity Supply started cutting off those who did not pay their bills. When a transformer burned out in an area with high theft, the company asked for two months’ worth of payment from the area’s residents before replacing it.

The company divided up the city of 18 million. Areas where 80 percent of people pay bills now have no regular power cuts. Areas with high loss — often crime-ridden, sweltering slums — have long power cuts. Karachi Electricity Supply is widely hated in such places.

Muhammed Fayyaz, who works as a driver, says his neighborhood often has as much as 10 hours of cuts per day. Summer temperatures top 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), and protests are frequent.

“People block the main road and throw stones at passing vehicles,” he said.

Mr. Fayyaz lives in a high-theft area. Stealing power is easy. Makeshift wires with metal hooks festoon Karachi Electricity Supply’s lines in the sun-baked streets. Some lead to roadside businesses. Others head into the distance atop lines of makeshift bamboo poles.

“We clean them up, but in five minutes they are back again,” said Muhammad Siddiq, a manager at the utility.

Anonymous said...

BBC2 Newsnight documentary on MQM and Altaf Hussain's money launderting and threats of violence against opponents and investigations into Imran Farooq murder

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report on MQM Chief Altaf Hussain:

Pakistan's most vibrant, vivacious and popular 24-hour news channel, Geo TV, generally has little difficulty recruiting staff. Its headquarters are in Karachi, Pakistan's so called "city of dreams" – a massive, sprawling conurbation with 20 million residents seeking a better life. And yet there was one vacancy recently that Geo TV could not fill. The channel wanted a lookalike for its popular satirical show, in which actors play the parts of the country's leading politicians. It was a job offering instant stardom and good money. And not a single person in Karachi was willing to do it.

The man Geo TV sought to satirise was Altaf Hussain, the leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). And the reason no one applied was the fear that if Altaf Hussain were unamused by the performance, the actor playing him would be murdered.
It's difficult to know how many murder cases have been registered against Altaf Hussain, but perhaps the most authoritative number was released in 2009 when the then Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf implemented his National Reconciliation Order, granting most of the country's senior politicians an amnesty. One of the biggest beneficiaries was Hussain, against 72 cases were dropped, including 31 allegations of murder. The MQM rejects all the murder charges lodged against Hussain.
Right from the start the police raids in the investigation have produced rich material. Shortly after the 2010 murder the police found a significant number of papers stashed in Farooq's home. Some of the documents gave credence to the confessions made by a number of suspected MQM militants in Karachi. Repeatedly, MQM activists there had told the Pakistani authorities they were trained in India. Asked on numerous occasions over a period of several weeks about its relationship with the MQM, Indian government officials have failed to make any statement on the matter. Recent police raids have turned up £150,000 at the party's Edgware's offices and £250,000 at Hussain's house in Mill Hill.

The police say they are making significant progress in the Farooq murder case and have an ever-clearer understanding of what they believe was a conspiracy to kill him. Their investigation, however, is complicated by the fact that the MQM has supporters deep within the Pakistani state who want to protect it, and more cynical actors such as Pakistan's main intelligence agency, the ISI, which want to control it.
As Hussain suggests in the letter, British interest in the MQM is largely driven by the perception that the party offers a defence against jihadis. But there is more to it than that. The MQM is British turf: Karachi is one of the few places left on earth in which the Americans let Britain take the lead. The US consulate in Karachi no longer runs active intelligence gathering operations in the city. The British still do. When it comes to claiming a place at the top table of international security politics – London's relationship with the MQM is a remaining toehold.

And there's something else. The FCO's (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) most important currency is influence. Successive Pakistani governments, when they are not demanding Hussain's extradition, have included his parliamentary bloc in various coalition governments. From the FCO's point of view, it's a great source of access. Right on their doorstep, in London, they have a man with ministers in the Pakistani government...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report on London Police investigations into Altaf Husain:

The MQM's most vocal critic today is cricketer-turned-playboy-turned-Islamist-politician Imran Khan. In 2007, portraying himself as the man who dared to confront even the most entrenched political interests, Khan paid a visit to the Metropolitan police in London to hand over, he claimed, evidence of Hussain's wrongdoing. Apparently unimpressed with the quality of that evidence, the police did not bring any charges and Khan let the issue drop. But in May this year when one of his best-known party activists in Karachi, Zahra Shahid Hussain, was shot down outside her home, Khan openly accused the MQM of her murder. Thousands of his social media-savvy supporters were encouraged to complain to the British police. More than 12,000 did so and the police responded by, for the first time, formally investigating Altaf Hussain's London activities.

There are a number of strands to the Met's inquiries. First there is the issue of whether the MQM leader is using his London base to incite violence in Pakistan. In assessing that, the police have a huge amount of material to sift through, much of it online. At his birthday party in 2009, for example, he regaled his guests with a remark aimed at Pakistan's rich landowners and businessmen: "You've made big allegations against the MQM. If you make those allegations to my face one more time you'll be taking down your measurements and we'll prepare your body bags."

Because he is in London, Hussain addresses rallies in Karachi over the telephone. Crowds gather to listen to his voice through loudspeakers. In one such speech he had this message for TV anchors: "If you don't stop the lies and false allegations that damage our party's reputation, then don't blame me, Altaf Hussain, or the MQM if you get killed by any of my millions of supporters."

Most of his threats have been aimed at people in Pakistan but at least one was directed at the UK journalist Azhar Javaid who asked a question once too often. At a press conference in September 2011 Hussain warned Javaid that his "body bag was ready".

Adressing those whom he accused of denying the Mohajirs their rights, in December 2012, Hussain ranted: "If your father won't give us freedom just listen to this sentence carefully: then we will tear open your father's abdomen. To get our freedom we will not only tear it out of your father's abdomen but yours as well."

Partly because of the difficulty of establishing unchallengeable translations of Hussain's words, it might be months before the police decide whether to recommend a prosecution. In the meantime there is talk of a private prosecution. Long-time MQM critic George Galloway MP recently set up a fund to pay the legal fees of such an initiative.

On two occasions British judges have found that the MQM is a violent organisation. In 2010 a Karachi-based police officer sought asylum in the UK claiming the MQM was threatening to kill him in revenge for his having registered a case against one of its members. The judge, Lord Bannatyne, granted asylum and in his judgment accepted that: "the MQM has killed over 200 police officers who stood up to them in Karachi"....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story on MQM and Altaf Hussain:

He follows events through satellite televisions in his walled-off home, manages millions of dollars in assets and issues decrees in ranting teleconferences that last for hours — all to command a network of influence and intimidation that stretches from North America to South Africa.

This global system serves a very localized goal: perpetuating Mr. Hussain’s reign as the political king of Karachi, the brooding port city of 20 million people at the heart of Pakistan’s economy.

“Distance does not matter,” reads the inscription on a monument near Mr. Hussain’s deserted former house in Karachi, where his name evokes both fear and favor.

Now, though, his painstakingly constructed web is fraying.

A British murder investigation has been closing in on Mr. Hussain, 59, and his party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. His London home and offices have been raided, and the police have opened new investigations into accusations of money laundering and inciting violence in Pakistan.


“This is a major crisis,” said Irfan Husain, the author of “Fatal Faultlines,” a book about Pakistan’s relationship with the United States. “The party has been weakened, and Altaf Hussain is being criticized like never before.”


Mr. Hussain fled to London in 1992, when the movement was engaged in a vicious street battle with the central government for supremacy in Karachi. The British government granted him political asylum and, 10 years later, a British passport.

London has long been the antechamber of Pakistani politics, where self-exiled leaders take refuge until they can return. The former military ruler Pervez Musharraf lived here until recently, and the current prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, lived here until 2007.

Mr. Hussain, however, shows no sign of going back. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement has an office in Edgware, in northwest London. But these days Mr. Hussain is mostly at home, in a redbrick suburban house protected by raised walls, security cameras and a contingent of former British soldiers he has hired as bodyguards.

From there, he holds court, addressing his faraway followers in a vigorous, sometimes maniacal style, punctuated by jabbing gestures and hectoring outbursts. Occasionally he bursts into song, or tears. Yet, on the other end of the line, it is not unusual to find tens of thousands of people crowded into a Karachi street, listening raptly before an empty stage containing Mr. Hussain’s portrait, as his disembodied voice booms from speakers.

“The cult of personality surrounding Altaf Hussain is quite extraordinary,” said Farzana Shaikh, an academic and the author of “Making Sense of Pakistan.” “He is immensely charismatic, in the way one thinks of the great fascist leaders of the 20th century.”

In Karachi, his overwhelmingly middle-class party is fronted by sharply dressed, well-spoken men — and a good number of women — and it has won a reputation for efficient city administration. But beneath the surface, its mandate is backed by armed gangs involved in racketeering, abduction and the targeted killings of ethnic and political rivals, the police and diplomats say.

Other major Pakistani parties indulge in similar behavior, but the Muttahida Qaumi Movement frequently brings the most muscle to the fight. An American diplomatic cable from 2008 titled “Gangs of Karachi,” which was published by WikiLeaks, cited estimatesthat the party had an active militia of 10,000 gunmen, with an additional 25,000 in reserve — a larger force, the dispatch notes, than the city police.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' story on murder of Karachi gangster Zafar Baloch:

Days before he was killed in a drive-by shooting in Karachi, one of Pakistan's most feared men said he would rather see the city in ruin than give up control over his turf in the country's volatile commercial capital.

Zafar Baloch, a notorious figure wielding enormous power in Karachi, was killed by a group of gunmen on motorbikes overnight in an attack that sent shock waves through the sprawling port city generating a quarter of Pakistan's economy.

In a rare interview on September 5, Baloch, 46, spoke extensively about the psychology of gangland violence, offering a rare glimpse into the dark world of turf wars and extortion in Pakistan's troubled and ethnically diverse second city.

Speaking to Reuters in Lyari, one of Karachi's most dangerous neighborhoods, he said he would not leave his turf despite continuous raids by police and attacks by rival gangs.

"I once had 13 police raids in one day. I have bullet and grenade wounds in my leg," he said. "Thieves run away. I'll never run away from Lyari."

A city of 18 million people, Karachi is home to Pakistan's main port, stock exchange and central bank. And yet it is one of the most violent places in the South Asian nation, torn apart by ethnic, political and sectarian tensions and gangland rivalries.

Explosions and killings occur daily as political and militant groups battle for control with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the city's dominant political party.

Karachi generates 25 percent of Pakistan's economy and presents a major challenge to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as he tries to bring law and order to the chaotic financial hub.


In Lyari, a dense network of slums housing over a million people, criminal gangs operate freely, exerting total control over businesses and residents. Police almost never enter the neighborhood without permission from Baloch's men.

Streets are busy, teeming with people and cars. Buildings and lampposts are adorned with posters of Baloch and his allies.

Speaking to Reuters at a local football club, Baloch compared Karachi to a cake which attracted too many takers.

"Right now we are sitting across the table watching the MQM eat the whole cake," Baloch said. "If this goes on, we will either ruin the cake for everyone or get our slice."

A large and burly man, Baloch narrowly survived a grenade attack in 2011 and still had a cast on one leg when Reuters saw him. He walked with a walking cane until the day he was killed.

Lyari's economically strategic location - enclosed on one side by the port and on the other by the city's biggest industrial area - has made it the hub of extortion, violent crime and drug barons.

As many as 1,726 people were killed in Karachi in the first six months of this year, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Mainstream political parties are accused of running armed groups that have carved up the city along ethnic lines into spheres of influence - a charge politicians deny.

Baloch saw the MQM, backed by Karachi's Urdu-speaking community that returned after partition from India, as his main rival.

"The problem is that the MQM thinks it has the biggest stake in Karachi," Baloch told Reuters. "Until the MQM learns to share, there will always be chaos."

And yet he spoke passionately about Karachi, a city where had earned both fear and respect.

"Karachi was born out of Lyari. It comes from right here. The people of Lyari gave birth to this city. How can we let it die?" he said. "Lyari is just a good town with a bad reputation. But its people will never let Karachi die."

Riaz Haq said...

As many as 76 sitting MPs of various political parties face serious criminal charges and could be disqualified if convicted for over 2 years. BJP leads the list with 18 MPs while the Congress has 14 MPs with criminal record, Samajwadi Party with 8, BSP with 6, AIADMK with 4, JD(U) with 3 and CPI(M) with 2 are followed by 17 MPs from the smaller parties with serious criminal charges against them.

Anonymous said...

DALTENGANJ, India — When he decided to run for a parliamentary seat from this impoverished, and mainly low-caste constituency in northeast India, Kameshwar Baitha made no effort to sugarcoat his criminal record.

Obediently, he cataloged the serious charges pending against him, all of which he says are false. There were 17 for murder, 22 for attempted murder, 6 for assault with a dangerous weapon, 5 for theft, 2 for extortion, and so on, a legacy from Mr. Baitha’s previous career as a leader of the local Maoist insurgency. On top of that was the fact that he was in jail.

But this did not hurt him with voters here, noted his son, Babban Kumar, who hopes to follow his father into politics. With people in this area, who look to elected leaders as Robin Hood figures, it may have helped.

“You have to fight against something, how else can you get into politics?” Mr. Kumar said. “Without going to jail, you cannot be a big politician.”

New impulses are rippling through Indian politics this year, as a growing, urbanized middle class demands that hundreds of tainted politicians be driven from the system.

In Delhi, crowds driven by Internet campaigns have rallied around an anticorruption platform, holding brooms to symbolize the coming cleansing. The Supreme Court, sensing the public mood, ruled in July that it was illegal for politicians who had been convicted of crimes to continue holding office by simply filing an appeal against their convictions. The ruling would disqualify politicians sentenced to more than two years in prison by a lower court. This change, which could uproot formidable political forces, was endorsed this month by the governing coalition’s crown prince, Rahul Gandhi.

Riaz Haq said...

According to the JIT report, the MQM worker revealed that a “well-known party high official” had demanded Rs200 million as Bhatta (extortion money) though his frontman from Ali Enterprises, the owners of the ill-fated factory, in Aug 2012.

The suspect told the investigators that after the extortion demand one of the factory owners had met the sector in-charge of Baldia Town, Asghar Baig, and informed him about it. He said the sector in-charge and his brother, Majid, had taken the factory owner to MQM’s headquarters Nine-Zero and brought the matter to the knowledge of in-charge of KTC (Karachi Tanzeemi Committee) Hammad Siddiqui and Farooq Saleem.

He said Asghar Baig told the KTC men that the factory owners were party supporters and still they were being asked to pay extortion money. The JIT report quoted the suspect as saying that the sector in-charge and his brother had also exchanged harsh words with Hammad Siddiqui and Farooq Saleem.

Later, the MQM worker said, Hammad Siddiqui had suspended the sector in-charge of Baldia Town, replacing him with the joint sector in-charge, Rehman Bhola. The suspect said the KTC men had ordered Bhola to collect Rs200m as protection money from the factory owners. When the factory owners refused to pay the money, Bhola and his accomplices set the factory on fire by throwing chemical substances, according to the suspect.

He said the CID had raided the house of the suspended sector in-charge and arrested his brother Majid who was later released after the MQM pressurised the factory owners to issue a statement that he was not involved in the incident.

According to the suspect, a former MQM minister got a pre-arrest bail of the factory owners cancelled and a frontman of a party high official took Rs150m from the factory owners for disposal of the case.

The suspect claimed that he had obtained all this information from the former sector in-charge of Baldia Town.

Giving a brief history of the suspect, the JIT report said Rizwan Qureshi was born in 1968. He worked as a mechanic in NLC from 1984 to 1988 and as supervisor in a private company till 1991. He had been jobless from 1991 to 1998 and was then appointed in KMC as sanitary sub-inspector.

The JIT report also contains several other disclosures about the involvement of MQM workers in several criminal cases as well rigging in the 2013 general elections.

A two-judge SHC bench headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar took the JIT report on record and put off the hearing to be later fixed by the court office.

The petitioner’s counsel pointed out that a plea had been made for the replacement of the present investigation officer (IO) and conclusion of the trial in the factory fire case as early as possible.

In its order, the court said: “As regards the change of the IO, we have already appointed Mr Sultan Khawaja [deputy inspector general of police] to supervise the proceedings on behalf of police and would dispose of the present application by directing the trial court to proceed in the matter expeditiously so that the trial may conclude within one year from today.”

Riaz Haq said...

It will be interesting to note whether PPP-MQM have joined hands out of compulsion or will it really be a new journey, burying the bitter past. It looks difficult but it is the only option for peace in Sindh as well as its economic development. But one still has to wait and see the “written accord” between the two representative parties of Sindh. Both have supported the ongoing “operation” which will continue. Former President Asif Ali Zardari faced internal criticism and pressure when he informed his top leaders about seat adjustment with MQM in the Senate and also about the new accord.

Mr Zardari, who is now tightening his grip on the party after reports that the party’s senior most leader, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, is not happy with some of the decisions he has taken. His absence from the Parliamentary Board’s meetings and not awarding a single ticket on Amin Fahim’s recommendations has raised many questions. Whether these differences are of serious nature or not but the fact remained that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, for all practical purposes, is no longer chairman of the PPP.

Mr. Zardari also knows that there still are strong reservations over this accord within PPP, Sindh, particularly at this crucial time. It is important for him to satisfy his leaders from interior Sindh as well as from Karachi.

Rehman Malik, the man behind the new accord, does not enjoy support in the PPP, Sindh, yet this accord with MQM has added one more seat to the PPP tally, from six to seven in the senate elections, which is crucial as the party will hardly be getting any seat from other three province.Secondly, Mr Zardari also knows that he needs MQM to check the entry of PTI in Sindh.

Thirdly, local bodies elections are also in his mind and that is why he is making new alliances in Sindh. MQM will be getting Karachi and Hyderabad while it will support PPP in interior Sindh.

At the same time Mr Zardari needs to control his ministers and local leaders, as they will be facing tough questions from the media in the “talk shows.” He will be facing some problems in interior Sindh, as he not having the best of terms with his school-time friend, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, these days.

Mirza is also not happy with the arrest of Uzair Baluch in Dubai and his possible extradition to Pakistan. But, his main differences are not with Zardari but with his sister, Faryal Talpur.Sensing the possible dissent in the party, the PPP co-chairman will be making a few important decisions about his relations with Functional Muslim League and smaller groups.

One of the crucial alliances, expected on Friday, will be Jatois joining hands with Zardari, bringing an end to the decades-old political rivalries. It will certainly change the political dynamics of Nawabshah.

It was also not be an easy decision for the MQM and its chief, Altaf Hussain, either. He too is facing problems in his own party and frequent reshuffle in the Rabita Committee is an indicatio

Riaz Haq said...

Paramilitary forces raided the offices of the main political party in the sprawling port city of Karachi, seizing weapons and arresting some of its activists, officials and party members said.

Members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement said three of the party’s supporters were shot, one fatally, during the operation Wednesday morning. The party headquarters, known as “Nine Zero,” is protected by barriers erected by the party, with armed personnel manning checkpoints and watchtowers around the area.

The paramilitary Rangers force, which is run under the command of serving army officers, wouldn’t immediately comment on the casualties of the raid.

Col. Tahir Mahmood, a spokesman for the Rangers, said the raid was launched after receiving intelligence about the presence of wanted individuals at the MQM headquarters, including a man sentenced to death over the killing of a journalist. Following the raid, Rangers showed reporters the weapons they said were seized from the headquarters complex, including dozens of automatic rifles.

Karachi, a city of more than 20 million people, is plagued by gang violence. The gangs, which include jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda, have turned parts of the city into so-called no-go areas that even police hesitate to enter.

“This was a ‘no-go’ area, and we have a mandate to end no-go areas,” said Col. Mahmood.

After the raid, large parts of Karachi shut down, with shops and businesses pulling down their shutters, and buses curtailing their routes.

At MQM headquarters, hundreds of angry party supporters gathered, chanting, “How many mohajirs will you kill?”

The MQM draws its following from mohajirs, Muslims who migrated to Pakistan following the partition of British India in 1947 and who form the largest ethnic group in the city. It says it has 100,000 members, and it drew nearly 2.5 million votes in the 2013 election.

The MQM is widely accused of violence, extortion and running an armed militia, allegations the party denies, although it acknowledges that individual members may be involved in criminality.

At Khursheed Memorial Hall, an administrative building for the party, the apparent aftermath of the raid was still visible. Filing cabinets appeared to have been ransacked, computer screens were smashed, furniture was broken and pictures of the party’s leader, Altaf Hussain, had been pulled down.

Mr. Hussain lives in self-imposed exile in London. He was arrested last year by British police amid a probe into alleged money laundering, but he was later released and hasn’t been charged with any crime there.

The MQM is an avowedly secular political party that describes itself as a bastion of opposition to radical groups such as the Pakistani Taliban. “We have to defend ourselves—we have threats from the Taliban, from terrorists, that’s why these barriers are here,” said Faisal Subzwari, a provincial lawmaker for the MQM. “They took away all our weapons. We provided no resistance.”

Riaz Haq said...

Wall Street Journal on Saulat Mirza's video confession:
KARACHI, Pakistan — The hot topic on Pakistani social media today isn’t just cricket: It’s one of the country’s most famous death row inmates.
Saulat Ali Khan, known as Saulat Mirza, is a former activist for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the country’s fourth-largest political party. He was sentenced to death by a court in 1999 for assassinating a top government bureaucrat, his driver and bodyguard in 1997 in Karachi, but hours before the sentence was to be carried out, he won a Bollywood gangster-movie-style reprieve: Hours after prison officials confirmed he was to be hanged in a prison in remote Balochistan province, he was given a temporary stay of execution by the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain.
Late Wednesday, #saulatmirza was already trending on Twitter in Pakistan, despite the ongoing Cricket World Cup. The reason?
The release of a videotaped confession, in which Mr. Khan said that murders had been carried out on the order of MQM’s London-based founder, Altaf Hussain, and other senior party leaders.
In the aftermath of the release of this allegation, Mr. Hussain issued a strong denial, saying he had never met Mr. Mirza and that the convicted murderer had been removed from the party in 1994.
But the Mr. Khan’s revelations remained the focus of television talk shows until late Wednesday night.
Local police officials said Mr. Khan had also been charged in 20 separate murder cases, including the killing of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent in Karachi in 1995. They added that he is suspected to have been involved in at least 58 political murders, with the victims being principally police and security officials.
Officials, speaking privately, said Mr. Khan’s sentence in the murder of Shahid Hamid, then-managing director of Karachi’s then state-owned electricity company – now the privately held K Electric – had stood because Mr. Hamid’s widow, also a senior government official, and his son Omar Shahid, a police officer and author of the internationally acclaimed thriller ‘The Prisoner’ refused to succumb to pressure from MQM party for a lighter sentence.
Nevertheless, officials said, the death penalty was not carried out for 11 years, even after the Supreme Court had denied an appeal against Mr. Khan’s conviction in 2004. It was only the recent lifting of the moratorium on hangings by the government after the Peshawar massacre of school children by the Taliban in December, that Mr. Mirza’s name appeared on the top of the list of those to be executed.

Riaz Haq said...

Omar Shahid Hamid, author of The Prisoner, served with Pakistan's Karachi police for 12 years, during which time he was targeted by various terrorist groups and criminal outfits. He received his Masters in Criminal Justice Policy from the London School of Economics, and his Masters in Law from University College London.

When is a work of fiction actually a vivid portrayal of reality? Omar Shahid Hamid, a Karachi police officer, blurs the borders between fact and fiction with “The Prisoner,” a chilling novel about cops and the criminal underworld in the megacity city he serves.
The characters in the book are barely-veiled depictions of real-life people and organizations in one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Mr. Hamid said he chose to write fiction because he couldn’t have gotten away with a work of non-fiction that laid bare the merger of politics, gangsters, jihadists and the police that makes Karachi a city of such corruption and violence.

“Karachi’s institutions have become so weak, including the police, that you have militias taking over different parts of the city,” said Mr. Hamid, a senior anti-terrorism police officer, who has been on sabbatical leave to write the book. “This is what I call the Beirutification of Karachi.”
“The Prisoner” exposes the putrid, bloody, underbelly of Karachi, as only a police officer could know it. Bent cops, greedy, sex-hungry politicians, and criminal syndicates prey upon Karachi’s population in the book in a world so dark that readers will come away terrified.
Anyone who knows Pakistan will recognize groups and characters based on well-known police officers, intelligence operatives, prominent political families, al Qaeda and especially the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which is allegedly connected to the city’s biggest and most established criminal network.
The MQM insists that any of its members involved in criminal activity do not have the support of the party.
Mr. Hamid knows people connected to the group all too well. In the late 1990s, his father, a senior bureaucrat, was assassinated in Karachi, after resisting the MQM. A rough, hard-talking police officer called Chaudhry Aslam came to his house at the time to tell the family that he had caught the killer, a self-confessed member of the MQM.
The young Mr. Hamid knew back then that he wanted to join the police–an unusual career choice for someone educated abroad like him–he even opted for the tough Crime Investigation Department where Mr. Aslam served.
“I saw the ability of the police to act as a transformational body,” says Mr. Hamid. “And I saw how one man can move mountains.”
A character based on Mr. Aslam–who was one of Karachi’s most feared police officers before he was assassinated in an explosion last month–is one of the heroes of the novel. The moral dilemma of tough police officers that have to take the law into their own hands and sometimes even execute criminals is one of the themes of the book.
“I don’t advocate extra-judicial executions,” says Mr. Hamid. “But our courts are unwilling to take responsibility.”
Mr. Hamid’s book was first published in India late last year, an increasingly common route for Pakistani writers. He will be launching the book in Pakistan and speaking at theKarachi Literature Festival which starts Friday.

Riaz Haq said...

SP Chaudhry Aslam Khan (portrayed as Akbar Khan in The Prisoner by Omar Shahid Hamid) was one of the several officers serving police in the 1990s when political activists — almost all associated with the then Muhajir Qaumi Movement — were killed in police encounters that were later documented as ‘extra-judicial killings’ and still described by the party as ‘state terrorism’.

The brutal trend, with then interior minister Naseerullah Babar as its official in charge, led to end of the second Benazir Bhutto government in 1996. Extrajudicial killings in Karachi and corruption scandals were cited as major reasons by then president Farooq Khan Leghari for dissolving the assemblies.

Most of the officers associated with the ‘Karachi operation’ have been assassinated one by one over the past decade. But SP Khan was promoted as deputy superintendent of police in 1998 and his work earned him the rank of superintendent of police in 2005. But controversies dogged his professional growth.

In 2006, the SP was put behind bars for staging an encounter, as head of the Lyari task force, to kill notorious dacoit Mashooq Brohi. Aslam Khan and his colleagues spent 16 months in jail before being released in Dec 2007 on bail granted by the Sindh High Court.

The 2006 memories of the Brohi case were not over when he came under the spotlight again in 2009 for no different reason. As an SP for Investigation East-II, Mr Khan’s team killed the alleged Lyari gangster, Rahman Dakait, and his three associates in an alleged encounter.

After hitting headlines for surviving an attack in Sept 2011 on his Defence Society residence, he was in the limelight again in April 2012 after police laid siege to Lyari in order to trap criminals.

Police called off the ‘Lyari operation’ after a week without any success for SP Khan and his team. Twelve policemen lost their lives.

The 47-year-old officer, as documented in the official record, SP Khan seemed as calm as on any other day after every shootout with militants and gangsters and even attack on his life. Called as ‘Karachi version of Dirty Harry’ and ‘Pakistan’s toughest cop’ by foreign media, SP Khan survived several attacks on his life before falling at last on Thursday. But the number of such attempts always remained a mystery.

“Maybe it’s five,” shared one of his colleagues before taking a pause and said again: “But wait. It’s nine, I think. But you see it hardly matters. I think he only shared or remembered those which left him with loss to some extent one way or the other. Like he survived but his guards were killed or he remained unhurt. It’s his daily business and he had been facing it since 1995.”

SP Khan never remained out of focus. For media, police hierarchy and the political circles he was always in. In Dec 1998 he arrested MQM activist Saulat Mirza, describing him as a prize catch from Karachi airport minutes after he returned from Bangkok.

Mirza is now facing death sentence for killing Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) Malik Shahid Hamid in 1997 and admitted killing a number of people, including a Pakistani employee of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency in 1995.

Interestingly, a few years later SP Khan and the only son of the slain chief of the power utility Omer Shahid Hamid became colleagues and close aides to serve together at Lyari Task Force and the CID.

Riaz Haq said...

Omar Shahid Hamid, author of The Prisoner, served with Pakistan's Karachi police for 12 years, during which time he was targeted by various terrorist groups and criminal outfits. He received his Masters in Criminal Justice Policy from the London School of Economics, and his Masters in Law from University College London.

When is a work of fiction actually a vivid portrayal of reality? Omar Shahid Hamid, a Karachi police officer, blurs the borders between fact and fiction with “The Prisoner,” a chilling novel about cops and the criminal underworld in the megacity city he serves.
The characters in the book are barely-veiled depictions of real-life people and organizations in one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Mr. Hamid said he chose to write fiction because he couldn’t have gotten away with a work of non-fiction that laid bare the merger of politics, gangsters, jihadists and the police that makes Karachi a city of such corruption and violence.

“Karachi’s institutions have become so weak, including the police, that you have militias taking over different parts of the city,” said Mr. Hamid, a senior anti-terrorism police officer, who has been on sabbatical leave to write the book. “This is what I call the Beirutification of Karachi.”
“The Prisoner” exposes the putrid, bloody, underbelly of Karachi, as only a police officer could know it. Bent cops, greedy, sex-hungry politicians, and criminal syndicates prey upon Karachi’s population in the book in a world so dark that readers will come away terrified.
Anyone who knows Pakistan will recognize groups and characters based on well-known police officers, intelligence operatives, prominent political families, al Qaeda and especially the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which is allegedly connected to the city’s biggest and most established criminal network.
The MQM insists that any of its members involved in criminal activity do not have the support of the party.
Mr. Hamid knows people connected to the group all too well. In the late 1990s, his father, a senior bureaucrat, was assassinated in Karachi, after resisting the MQM. A rough, hard-talking police officer called Chaudhry Aslam came to his house at the time to tell the family that he had caught the killer, a self-confessed member of the MQM.
The young Mr. Hamid knew back then that he wanted to join the police–an unusual career choice for someone educated abroad like him–he even opted for the tough Crime Investigation Department where Mr. Aslam served.
“I saw the ability of the police to act as a transformational body,” says Mr. Hamid. “And I saw how one man can move mountains.”
A character based on Mr. Aslam–who was one of Karachi’s most feared police officers before he was assassinated in an explosion last month–is one of the heroes of the novel. The moral dilemma of tough police officers that have to take the law into their own hands and sometimes even execute criminals is one of the themes of the book.
“I don’t advocate extra-judicial executions,” says Mr. Hamid. “But our courts are unwilling to take responsibility.”
Mr. Hamid’s book was first published in India late last year, an increasingly common route for Pakistani writers. He will be launching the book in Pakistan and speaking at theKarachi Literature Festival which starts Friday.

Riaz Haq said...

BADIN: A district and session judge on Saturday extended interim bail of Dr Zulfiqar Mirza and his comrades till June 2.

Miraz who has been facing 10 cases in different police stations on charges of vandalizing police station, damaging public property and manhandling policemen, was booked in three more cases for patronizing Lyari gangsters and providing them with unlicensed arms.

According to reports, as Mirza got extension in his bail, his supporters took to the streets for forced closure of shops during a strike that was called against arrest of former minister’s guard and driver in Karachi.

Meanwhile, an anti-terrorism court in Karachi has rejected Zulfiqar Mirza's application, seeking exemption from hearing.

The ATC has directed the former PPP leader to appear before it today (Saturday).

Riaz Haq said...

#MQM, #PPP, other parties extort over Rs. 230 billion in #Karachi every year: DG Rangers. #Pakistan via ShareThis​
A briefing by the DG Rangers told the Sindh Apex Committee meeting that millions of rupees are distributed amongst gang-war factions in Karachi.

According to a press release, DG Rangers Maj Gen Bilal Akbar gave a detailed briefing to the Apex Committee meeting that was held a day earlier, regarding the Karachi situation.

The DG Rangers revealed that over Rs.230 billion is collected illegally in Karachi annually.

The briefing went on to say that this money is used for the purchase of arms and ammunition.

It was also noted that money is coerced out in the form of alms for the same purpose.

The briefing further said that most crime is committed by a large party in Karachi.

The DG Rangers went on to say that a large part of illegal businesses in the city is the distribution system of water which also involved illegal means of making money – in millions of rupees.

The briefing also noted that the money made from sale of sacrificial animal hides is used for funding terrorist activities.

Regarding land grabbing in Karachi, the DG Rangers said that political parties, the City Government, District Administration, and police personnel are all involved in the activity.

He added that the amount made from land-grabbing is used by political and religious parties to operate their armed wings.

He went on to say that there are three types of land-grabbing being carried out in the metropolis including grabbing of government land and property as well as grabbing of private property.

The DG Rangers added that the funds from the mentioned activities are used for gang-warfare amongst factions in Lyari as well as other areas of the city and also distributed amongst some important dignitaries in Sindh.

Illegal marriage halls, unlawful car parking business, match-fixing, and money laundering all play an important role in promoting terrorism in Karachi, the press release stated.

It added that cyber-crime, beggar mafia, and external funding of seminaries also endorse terrorism.

Regarding income sourced from Iranian diesel, the DG Rangers revealed that it is also a major source of funding crime as well as terrorism.

He added that this amount is also used to provide for political groups in Sindh as well as armed groups of land lords.

He further said that a systematic and regular distribution is in place for these amounts to reach certain influential people.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan arrests two men over #London murder of dissident politician Imran Farooq. #MQM #Karachi … via @Reuters

Pakistani authorities said they arrested two men on Thursday in connection with the murder of a dissident Pakistani politician in London five years ago.

Mohsin Ali Syed, who left Britain just hours after Farooq's murder and is wanted by Scotland Yard, and Khalid Shamim were crossing into Pakistan's Baluchistan province from Afghanistan when they were arrested.

Farooq was a founding member of a major political party in Pakistan, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which controls Karachi, Pakistan's richest city and home to 20 million people.

He has been accused of murder, torture and other serious crimes and was seeking asylum in London when he was stabbed and beaten to death on his way home from work.

"The two men are MQM activists, one of them is directly involved in the Farooq stabbing, the other is said to be handler," a senior security official told Reuters.

MQM was not immediately available for comment.

A spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps said, "The Interior Ministry has been informed about their arrest and the men will be handed over to the Federal Investigation Agency."

MQM's leader Altaf Hussain has been living in self-imposed exile in Britain since 1992. He was arrested and questioned in connection with Farooq's murder last June, leading to protests that shut down Karachi.

No one has been charged with Farooq's murder but several MQM activists have been questioned and one of them was arrested on suspicion of money-laundering in April.

Last year, Scotland Yard said they wanted to trace Ali and a second Pakistani man, Muhammad Kashif Khan Kamran, who also left Britain just hours after Farooq's murder.

Kamran's whereabouts remain unknown.

The arrests may raise further weaken MQM at a time of rising tensions between Karachi's civilian politicians and the powerful military.

The two sides have been trading corruption allegations for several days and this week the paramilitary Rangers raided a government office after accusing an unnamed political party of controlling mafias in the city.

Riaz Haq said...

Hundreds, including key #Sindh #PPP ministers and bureaucrats banned from fleeing #Pakistan. #Karachi via ShareThis​

Sources told The News that the federal government had directed the FIA Immigration Wing not to allow seven provincial ministers, four former ministers, 20 MPAs and 8 MNAs of the PPP and over 100 officers of the Sindh government to leave the country and seek clearance from the law enforcement agencies in this regard.

These persons have been placed on the ‘Stop Person Watch List’ for their alleged involvement in corruption, land grabbing, patronage of criminals and other charges.Sources said all those on the watch list were yet to be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL); however, if any of them tried to escape, he would be arrested and charged as enough incriminating evidence had been collected against them.

The Sindh government spokesman and Information Minister Sharjeel Memon is staying away from the media despite many attempts to contact them.The phone numbers of provincial minister Manzoor Wassan, Gian Chand, Jam Shoro and Mumtaz Jakhrani were also not responding.

Sources said DG Rangers had sought the federal government’s permission to arrest 26 top corrupt persons including ministers, MPAs, MNAs and officers.However, by Saturday evening over 107 persons had filed applications with various courts for protective and pre-arrest bail.

They included several politicians, ministers, senior bureaucrats of Revenue Department and commissioner Benazirabad.The sources said investigators had got conclusive evidences of corruption in the Sindh Local Government Department and its subordinate departments including KMC, Water and Sewerage Board, Sindh Building Control Authority and Sindh Irrigation Department.

These departments were under the control of an unauthorized person who is a close relative of the leader of the main ruling party in Sindh.The Sindh Information Department, Finance Department, Coal and Energy, Works and Services, Education, Excise and Health department are also under investigation.

On the other hand, sources confirmed that the arrested Fishermen’s Cooperative Society (FCS) Vice Chairman Sultan Qamar Siddiqi and two directors Muhammad Khan Chachar and Rana Shahid had confessed to their involvement in embezzlement of funds of the Society, land grabbing, patronizing of criminal gangs and murders.

Siddiqi was arrested on June 17, while Muhammad Khan Chachar, Rana Shahid and Coordinator Kamran Abbasi were arrested on June 19 (Friday). The Anti-Terrorism Court had granted their 90 days remand on the Rangers request.

The Rangers law officer informed the court that Muhammad Khan Chachar was the front man of a woman leader and he had to be investigated in several cases including the killing of chairman Pakistan Steel Mills Sajjad Hussain.

He also said Chachar used to sell government vacancies to different people, while Rana Shahid and Abbasi were required for investigation into criminal cases including extortion and target killings.

Well-placed sources in the law enforcement agencies told The News that Muhammad Khan Chachar was a hardened criminal and remained co-accused with the PPP top leadership in many criminal cases including the murder case of former Steal Mills Chairman Sajjad Hussain.

Muhammad Khan Chachar was convicted in the case by a trial court and was later released by the Sindh High Court.

Chachar was also convicted in a murder attempt case of Imran Aziz Khan, son of former Lahore High Court Chief Justice Rashid Aziz Khan, and in murder case of his friend Ghulam Mustafa.

In the said case, Chachar was also convicted but released after his compromise with the heirs of the murdered Ghulam Mustafa.The sources said Rana Shahid was also involved in many criminal activities. He was the gang leader of Punjabi Students Associations (PSA) and joined the gang of Dr. Nisar Morai some two years back.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju on India's Criminal Organizations
I regard the Congress and the BJP as criminal organizations.
In 1984 that criminal gangster Indira Gandhi, who imposed a fake ' Emergency' in 1975 in India in order to hold on to power after she had been declared guilty of corrupt election practices by the Allahabad High Court, an ' Emergency' in which even the right to life was suspended, and lacs of Indians were falsely imprisoned, was assassinated.
As a reaction,the Congress Party led by Rajiv Gandhi organized a slaughter of thousands of innocent Sikhs, many of whom were burnt alive by pouring petrol or kerosene on them and setting them on fire. When there were protests against this horrendous crime, Rajiv Gandhi said ' jab bada ped girta hai, dharti hil jaati hai' ( when a big tree falls, the earth shakes ). It is believed that he gave oral instructions to the police not to interfere with the massacres for 3 days ( see my blog ' The Sikh riots of 1984 ' on )..
Soon after these horrible massacres, elections to the Lok Sabha was declared, and Congress swept the polls on this emotional wave winning a record 404seats in the 532 seat Lok Sabha, while BJP won only 2 seats.
In 2002 the massacre of Muslims was organized in Gujarat by BJP led by our friend ( see my blog ' All the Perfumes of Arabia ), and the result was that BJP has been regularly winning the Gujarat elections ever since, and has even won the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
So the message which has been sent is loud and clear : organize massacre of some minority in India, and you will sweep the polls. Never mind how much misery you cause to many people.
Are not the Congress and BJP, and even many smaller political parties, which are responsible for horrible deeds and for systematically looting the country of a huge amount of money for decades, and for causing such terrible sufferings and misery to the people, criminal organizations, most of whose members deserve the gallows ?

Riaz Haq said...

Crime Down in #Karachi, Paramilitary in #Pakistan Shifts Focus to Top Political Parties in Sindh

Paramilitary troops have become ubiquitous around this sprawling Pakistani port city. They watch over police officers at traffic circles, their convoys patrol thoroughfares, their raids drive daily headlines.

After years of crime and militancy that had made Karachi a byword for violence, an extended operation by the paramilitary force — the Sindh Rangers, who are ultimately answerable to the powerful Pakistani military command — has been working. Officials and residents report that crime is notably down across the city.

But in the name of security, the force in recent months has also begun upending the city’s political order. The crackdown has expanded to target two powerful political parties that have long been at odds with the military establishment. And it has left a broad trail of human rights violations — including accusations of extrajudicial killings, in which officers shoot suspects after taking them into unlawful detention, according to rights advocates and members of those parties.

The crackdown, which began two years ago, was initially limited to the slums and outskirts of the city, where Taliban militants and gangsters wielded influence. But this year, the military ordered that the dragnet be thrown wider, especially targeting the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or M.Q.M. The political party has controlled the city for decades through the powerful combination of a large ethnic support base, political acumen and armed gangs.

And in August, the Sindh Rangers arrested and brought charges of financing terrorism against Dr. Asim Hussain, a close aide to former President Asif Ali Zardari, who heads the Pakistan Peoples Party, or P.P.P. Several top leaders of the party, which in addition to its national profile controls the government of surrounding Sindh Province, have left the country, fearing arrest.

“We have dismantled the network of Taliban and criminal gangs of Lyari,” said one senior paramilitary security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the news media. (Lyari is the name of a poor Karachi neighborhood infamous for gang wars.) “Now, it is the turn of militant wings of political parties and those who provided finances to armed groups.”

The leaders of both the parties say they are being targeted for political reasons and accuse the Rangers, and their military masters, of overstepping their mandate and meddling in civilian politics. Interviews with the police and paramilitary officials and political leaders reveal that even among those who support the military, there is a growing sense that the country’s generals have made a concerted decision to wrest Karachi from the M.Q.M.’s control.


Some analysts believe the politician Imran Khan and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, have the most potential of any group to cut into the M.Q.M.’s influence in Karachi, especially given the widespread image of the party as being acceptable to the military.

But Talat Aslam, a senior editor at The News International in Karachi, said that Mr. Khan’s party, known as P.T.I., had not yet had much electoral success in the city and that at times it had misplayed its hand here.

“Very often, the P.T.I. gives the impression of being a force of outsiders that could arrive out of the blue to ‘liberate’ the captive and enslaved Mohajirs from the M.Q.M., which rules over them by force alone — a description that does not always go down well with the electorate,” Mr. Aslam said.

Political observers say the most likely consequence of the continuing paramilitary crackdown will be that no single political party will now be able to control the city. But for some here, particularly within the business sector, the improvement in overall violence has been worth the political upheaval.

“We do not care about the politicians,” said Atiq Mir, a leader of the local merchants’ community. “Peace is returning to Karachi because of the steps taken by the Rangers.”

Riaz Haq said...

Will #MQM power center shift from #London to #Karachi? #AltafHusain #Pakistan #India via @TheEconomist

FOR decades the fleshy features of Altaf Hussain have glowered over Karachi. The leader of the mighty Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) may have fled to London 25 years ago, but his image remains plastered on the streets of the city he controls. But it is becoming harder to find the posters and party flags that once fluttered from every streetlight. Mr Hussain has gradually been losing sway over Pakistan’s largest city to the Rangers, a notionally civilian security force under the control of the army.

In 2013 the government ordered the Rangers to rid Karachi of Islamist militants and criminal gangs. Last year they turned their attention to the MQM, a party successive governments have accused of deep involvement in Karachi’s criminal economy. Although it is ostensibly a relatively liberal and staunchly anti-Islamist political outfit, the authorities claim it runs a shadow organisation of extortionists and kidnappers. As evidence of the party’s unsavoury side, the Rangers point to weapons they discovered when they raided its “Nine Zero” headquarters last year.

This week Mr Hussain was at it again, with a speech in which he railed against television stations that had denied him coverage. One person was killed and several were injured when angry supporters ransacked the offices of two media companies. In response, the Rangers arrested senior MQM officials and shut Nine Zero. The police lodged a treason case against Mr Hussain, who had described Pakistan as a “cancer” in his speech. The interior minister complained to the British government about the conduct of Mr Hussain, who became a British citizen after fleeing an earlier crackdown on the MQM.

Mr Hussain issued a fulsome apology and said he had been under “immense mental stress”. It was not enough to avoid an unprecedented rebuke from Farooq Sattar, the MQM’s leader in Pakistan. All future decisions will be taken by the party’s leadership in Pakistan, he said, not from London. Mr Hussain appears to be acquiescing to this demotion: he has issued a statement promising to hand over “complete power”.

Sceptics say Mr Hussain will never willingly relinquish his grip. He stepped aside once before, in 1992, only to re-assert himself a few months later. But a comeback will be harder this time. The battering the Rangers have given the party’s heavies has greatly diminished his clout. His regular demands for citywide strikes used to turn Karachi into a ghost town. Shops now stay open, for the most part.

Yet the MQM’s local leadership will not want to cut all ties to Mr Hussain. He is the most charismatic figure in a party increasingly challenged by rivals, including the splinter Pakistan Sarzameen Party, which was set up by a former MQM mayor in March with, many believe, the support of the security services.

The MQM draws its support from the mohajir community—Urdu-speaking Muslims who fled India in 1947 and their descendants. They have remained a dependable vote block despite the many hair-raising claims made about the party, in part because they fear they will lose out to the city’s other ethnic groups, not least the fast-growing Pushtun community. For many mohajirs, the Rangers’ crackdown has only made Mr Hussain more popular. “Altaf is like the head of a family who has been fighting for us for 30 years,” says Mujahid Rasool, a 50-year-old shopkeeper. “Even when the eldest son starts taking more responsibilities, it doesn’t mean he is the family’s guardian.”

Riaz Haq said...

The dark side of #Indian politics: Why many Indian #politicians have a #criminal record. #India via @TheEconomist

When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics. By Milan Vaishnav. Yale University Press; 410 pages; $40. To be published in Britain in March; £25.

ALL politicians are crooks. At least, that is what a lot of people think in a lot of countries. One assumes it is a reproach. But not in India. Indian politicians who have been charged with or convicted of serious misdeeds are three times as likely to win parliamentary elections as those who have not. In “When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics” Milan Vaishnav of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace meticulously tracks the remarkable political success of India’s accused murderers, blackmailers, thieves and kidnappers. Having been a symptom of India’s dysfunctional politics, the felons are metastasising into its cause.

Sadly, this is not a book about some small, shady corner of Indian politics: 34% of the members of parliament (MPs) in the Lok Sabha (lower house) have criminal charges filed against them; and the figure is rising (see chart). Some of the raps are peccadillos, such as rioting or unlawful assembly—par for the course in India’s raucous local politics. But over a fifth of MPs are in the dock for serious crimes, often facing reams of charges for anything from theft to intimidation and worse. (Because the Indian judicial system has a backlog of 31m cases, even serious crimes can take a decade or more to try, so few politicians have been convicted.) One can walk just about the whole way from Mumbai to Kolkata without stepping foot outside a constituency whose MP isn’t facing a charge.

Mr Vaishnav dissects both the reasons why the goons want to get elected and why the electorate seems to be so fond of them. Their desire for office is relatively new. After independence in 1947 thugs used to bribe politicians to stay out of trouble and to secure lucrative state concessions such as mining rights. It helped that candidates from the dominant Congress party were sure to win a seat and then stay there. From the 1980s, as Congress started to fade as a political force, bribing its local representative became less of a sure thing for local crooks. So in the same way that a carmaker might start manufacturing its own tyres if it finds that outside suppliers are unreliable, Mr Vaishnav argues that the dons promoted themselves into holding office, thus providing their own political cover.

What is more surprising is that the supply of willing criminals-cum-politicians was met with eager demand from voters. Over the past three general elections, a candidate with a rap sheet of serious charges has had an 18% chance of winning his or her race, compared with 6% for a “clean” rival. Mr Vaishnav dispels the conventional wisdom that crooks win because they can get voters to focus on caste or some other sectarian allegiance, thus overlooking their criminality.

As so often happens in India, poverty plays a part. India is almost unique in having adopted universal suffrage while it was still very poor. The upshot has been that underdeveloped institutions fail to deliver what citizens vote for. Getting the state to perform its most basic functions—building a school, disbursing a subsidy, repaving a road—is a job that can require banging a few heads together. Sometimes literally. Who better to represent needy constituents in these tricky situations than someone who “knows how to get things done”? If the system doesn’t work for you, a thuggish MP can be a powerful ally.

Political parties, along with woefully inadequate campaign-finance rules, have helped the rise of the thug-candidate. Campaigns are hugely expensive. Voters need to be wooed with goodies—anything from hooch to jewels, bikes, bricks and straight-up cash will do. Criminals fill party coffers rather than drain them, and so are tolerated.

Riaz Haq said...

Uzair Baloch spills the beans about #PPP top leaders' corruption & backing of #crime, violence in #Karachi #Pakistan

In his confessional statement, dated April 29, 2016, Uzair testified that he joined a gang led by Abdul Rehman alias Rehman Dakait in 2003 and was incarcerated in the Central Jail, Karachi where he was appointed incharge of the prisoners belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on the recommendation of then jail superintendent Nusrat Mangan and PPP leader Faisal Raza Abedi.

In the statement available with The Express Tribune, Uzair disclosed that he assumed full-fledged command of the gang after Dakait was killed in an encounter in 2008 and formed an ‘armed terrorist’ group under the name of the Peoples Aman Committee (PAC) and became its chairperson.

He confessed to have collected Rs20 million extortion from different persons and departments every month, adding that the fisheries department would pay Rs2 million.

He also disclosed that PPP MNA Faryal Talpur, sister of party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, was given Rs10 million extortion every month. According to the alleged gangster, Dr Saeed Baloch and Nisar Morai were posted to the fisheries department on his recommendation.

“I maintained a friendly relationship with the [then] Karachi Capital City Police Officer Waseem Ahmed, SSP Farooq Awan and his brother Shahadat Awan [a lawyer and currently posted as prosecutor general of Sindh],” Uzair disclosed, adding he had done several favours for them, including helping Farooq and Shahadat encroach land in Malir. He also got Farooq to collect Rs150,000 to Rs200,000 in extortion every month.

The incarcerated gangster disclosed that on the insistence of Senator Yousuf Baloch he met the then chief minister Qaim Ali Shah and Talpur and asked them to get the head money and cases against him withdrawn, which was eventually done by Talpur and Zardari.

In his statement, Uzair disclosed that after the Karachi operation was intensified he was called through Qadir Patel and Senator Yousuf by Talpur to her Defence residence, where Sharjeel Inam Memon and Morai were also present. According to him, Talpur discussed various issues the including Lyari gang war, and offered to hide his personal arms and explosives and have Sharjeel and Morai handle his financial affairs and Yousuf and Patel handle affairs in Lyari if he wanted to flee the country.

He testified to have done various illegal works for the party, including helping Patel encroach land and providing 500 jobs to criminals on Yousuf’s insistence. He also admitted to have helped Owais Muzaffar Tapi, Zardari’s foster brother, illegally occupy 14 sugar mills that were later purchased at lower prices.

Uzair also claimed to have sent 20 of his men to harass residents around Bilawal House on Zardari’s instructions and force them to sell 30 to 40 bungalows to Zardari at lower prices. The gangster said he came to know about a plan to kill him while in police custody, so he pleaded to have his custody transferred to the Rangers.

The former Lyari kingpin had also requested complete protection, apprehending that he and his family members could be killed after these revelations, as he expected revenge from Zardari and other politicians he named in his statement.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistani to make #Netflix original series debut with Omer Shahid Hamid's The Party Worker. “A story based in #Karachi's #political/#mafia past. In fact there is a novel by Omer Shahid Hamid on it: the party worker.” #MQM #Killing #Extortion

Pakistan is now making its debut on Netflix with an original based on the work of well reputed Pakistani author Omer Shahid Hamid.

The 42-year-old writer who is also currently serving as a police officer announced on Twitter that he has already signed a film or series deal with the streaming giant for his acclaimed book The Party Worker.

The author publicized the news while a few curious souls on Twitter were discussing what Pakistan’s Netflix original would be like if there was one.

Responding to the tweet was a user who brought the attention to Hamid’s novel: “A story based in karachi's political/mafia past. Infact there is a novel by omer shahid hamid on it: the partyworker.”

Jumping in on the conversation was the ecstatic writer who wrote: “Funny you should mention it. Just signed a film/series deal for #ThePartyWorker #netflixherewecome.”

Omar Shahid Hamid
Funny you should mention it. Just signed a film/series deal for #ThePartyWorker #netflixherewecome #ifallelsefailsHumtvzindabad

Rafia Jaffar
Replying to @SudrishK
A story based in karachi's political/mafia past. Infact there is a novel by omer shahid hamid on it: the partyworker

3:21 AM - Mar 29, 2019
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Hamid’s book The Party Worker is cautiously divided into chapters dedicated to each character of the book that deliver their own perspectives and give birth to varying consequences to the eventual truth.

The book is set amidst the chaos and violence that lingers in the air of Karachi.

Riaz Haq said...

#Karachi vice: Meet #Pakistani cop who channels #police stories into gritty #crime novels. Cop Omar Shahid Hamid is one of #Pakistan's most popular English-language authors.His father was killed by a notorious hitman, his partner was murdered by #Taliban.

Personal tragedy haunts the hard-boiled novels that are turning top cop Omar Shahid Hamid into one of Pakistan's most popular English-language authors.

For nearly two decades Hamid has worn a badge in Karachi, the mega port city on the Arabian Sea that for years was rife with vicious political and extremist violence.

Now a deputy inspector general, he is also fast becoming one of Pakistan's most recognisable writers, publishing four books in quick succession since 2013.

His work has even nabbed the attention of major streaming outlets on the hunt for new original material from South Asia, including Netflix, which has already seen major success with similar material in TV series such as Sacred Games, about Mumbai's corrupt underworld.

Hamid said the secret to his success is his unflinching accounts of political corruption, contract killers, and crooked cops alongside nuanced portraits of Karachi's divided neighbourhoods.

"Books like mine wouldn't work if I pulled punches," he tells AFP.

"It's that grittiness, that uncompromising reality that I think a lot of readers enjoy."

At times the reality has hit dangerously and heartbreakingly close to home.

Hamid did the bulk of his writing while he was on sabbatical after being advised to leave Karachi and take a break from policing in 2011 when he was threatened by Islamist groups.

Close to reality
Weeks after the release of his first novel "The Prisoner", his mentor and police partner Chaudhry Aslam - the inspiration for one of the book's protagonists - was killed in a Taliban-claimed suicide blast.

In his third novel "The Party Worker", Hamid portrays the rise of a brutal hitman who killed at the behest of a fictional political party ruling the city with an iron fist.

For Karachi insiders, the character mirrors the life of feared hitman Saulat Mirza, who served as the feared enforcer for the once-powerful Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party - and whose list of victims include Hamid's own father, Shahid.

"It's less a thing of making a sketch of Saulat Mirza," explains Hamid, calling the character a "sketch of a particular type of young man... who kind of in the last 30 years or so essentially gave their lives away to these ideologies thinking they were doing the right thing."

The goal is not to excuse such actions, he insists.

"Understanding the motivations of someone is a positive tool if you're someone who has worked as an investigator in counterterrorism for a very long time," says Hamid.

"What he has written is fiction but it's very close to reality," says Faheem Siddiqui, Karachi bureau chief for Geo News.

"As a crime reporter, I know what had happened in the city. It took a great deal of courage to write about these events."

Hamid's plots go beyond his own losses to appear at times like thinly disguised retellings of the seismic moments that have rattled Karachi in the last 30 years - from the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 to the killing of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's brother Murtaza.

Dangerous city
Once a quiet port nestled on the Arabian Sea coastline, Karachi was transformed by the flood of refugees from neighbouring India after partition in 1947, setting the stage for disputes that needle the metropolis to this day.

Years later the port became a conduit for weapons, narcotics, and a new flood of refugees from war-torn Afghanistan, transforming politics and ratcheting up violence to make Karachi one of Asia's most dangerous cities.


Riaz Haq said...

Kamran Faridi — Karachi criminal who turned into FBI spy before losing it all

When condemning the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s valued secret agent Kamran Faridi, 57, to seven years in jail in December 2020, Judge Cathy Seibel of New York’s Southern District Court described it as “perhaps the most difficult sentencing I have ever done.”

The judge commented that the case carried facts, “unlike anything I think most of us have ever seen”.

She had reached that conclusion after learning the startling facts of the Karachi-born spy’s history.

Faridi’s "career" had started with hustling on the rough streets of Karachi, segued into major crimes, and then swerved towards a life of dangerous undercover operations for American secret services.

He ultimately ran afoul of his handlers for issuing death threats to three former colleagues — his FBI supervisor, an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) officer, and his former FBI handler — in February 2020.

Violent origins
This correspondent reviewed court papers and spoke to Faridi, who is currently serving time in a New York jail, to piece together the extraordinary life of a man whose career in criminality started after he became associated with student politics in Karachi while still in his teens.

Faridi was born and grew up in Block 3 of Karachi’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal area. He joined the Peoples Students Federation (PSF) — the student wing of the Pakistan Peoples Party — when he was a grade-9 student at the Ali Ali School and had started hanging out at the National College, Karachi University, and NED University. Faridi eventually grew close to PSF’s Najeeb Ahmed, then a well-known student leader.

This was a time when student unions were — quite literally and violently — at war with each other. Faridi told this reporter that he started running guns and got into kidnapping for ransom, carjacking, and armed attacks.

As he lived in an area dominated by the rival Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), it soon became difficult for him to operate from home ground. Najeeb helped Faridi shift to Times Square, where he joined other PSF activists living in the apartment complex.

Local police and the Crime Investigation Department (CID; now known as the CTD) soon had arrest warrants out against Faridi. At the same time, MQM activists were hunting him down.

Aware of the danger, Faridi’s family paid off a human smuggler and arranged for him to travel to Sweden. In Sweden, however, Faridi was unable to keep a low profile and soon got into fights with the local Albanian and Bangladeshi gangs.

He was arrested a few times by local police, and in 1992, Swedish authorities blacklisted him and refused to give him a visa due to his bad conduct.

Now an illegal immigrant, Faridi went into hiding at an island, where he was allegedly helped by Greenpeace activists. A local human rights activist, according to Faridi, arranged a fake passport for him to travel to Iceland, from where he went to America and started a life in New York City.

He later moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1994 and bought a gas station in a violent neighbourhood called Bankhead Highway.

Recruitment in the FBI
According to Faridi, Atlanta police used to hustle him regularly for bribes. Fed up of their harassment, he reported them to the FBI. This is how Faridi first came into contact with the federal agency.

The FBI agents he was in contact with, Faridi claimed, told him that they would help him, but only if he would help them first. They wanted him to infiltrate a local Urdu-speaking Pakistani gang that had been causing difficulties for local law enforcement.

The FBI saw value in Faridi’s fluent command of Urdu, Punjabi, and Hindi, and in 1996 he became a full-time informant and agent.