EDITORIAL: Karachi’s hydra of violence - Saturday, August 21, 2010

Source : http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\08\21\story_21-8-2010_pg3_1

The political rivalry between MQM and ANP is costing Karachi heavily. A little over two weeks after the murder of MQM MPA Raza Haider that led to the killing of about 90 people, Karachi is once again in the grip of unrest. Over a dozen people have been killed and a score injured in violence that ensued after the assassination of the Sindh security chief of ANP Obaidullah Yousafzai on Thursday, sending a stark message that a person in charge of provincial security of the party cannot ensure protection of his own life. The ANP has threatened to quit the coalition government in Sindh if the killers are not arrested within 72 hours, while the MQM has condemned the murder. It appears uncertain if the code of conduct signed earlier this month between the two parties engaged in intense rivalry would be able to calm the situation. Political pacts have little value unless their signatories earnestly pledge to implement them in letter and spirit.

Karachi is home to sizable populations of both Pashtuns and Mohajirs, represented by their respective political parties. Tensions between the two communities have heightened during the tenure of the current coalition government in Sindh, especially after the dissolution of the local governments. The pattern of Obaidullah Yousafzai’s murder is shockingly similar to many of those carried out earlier, followed by widespread violence. Although the police have claimed to have arrested two members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi involved in the MQM MPA’s murder, the root cause of the brewing violence in the city, it has done little to calm sentiments. The latest incident appears more of a tit-for-tat killing. If indeed the proscribed outfits are using the rivalry between the two parties to their advantage, there is an urgent need to renew efforts for reconciliation. It seems that the initiative of the prime minister after Haider Raza’s assassination was not powerful enough to ensure lasting peace as mistrust and resentments have once again reared their ugly heads, exhibited in the brinkmanship of the ANP.

Renunciation of violence and peaceful coexistence is not a luxury; it is the dire need of the hour, because there can be no end to revenge killings. Not only should the ANP and MQM sit together and sort out the real problems, they need to devise a mechanism to prevent tit-for-tat targeted killings. They should take into account the fact that this battle for turf has the potential of throwing the entire country into disarray. Moreover, without the autonomy of the law enforcement agencies from political influence, no impartial investigation and prosecution can be carried out. The two parties need to rise above their partisan considerations and let justice take its course, so that those guilty of creating the mayhem could be duly punished. Without this, targeted killings cannot be tackled. In this atmosphere of mutual mistrust, PPP is eminently placed to mediate between MQM and ANP. It is the senior coalition partner and has not been involved in the current spate of targeted killings. Pakistan can ill afford to allow violence to engulf the metropolis once again at a time when the energies of the leadership should be focused on rescue and relief activities in the biggest natural disaster to hit the country. The prime minister should call both warring parties and urge them to give precedence to national interests over their parochial political ones. *

SECOND EDITORIAL: Lessons to be learnt

The last US combat brigade left Iraq in the wee hours of Thursday morning, leaving behind many lessons that need to be learned by the mighty imperialist superpower. As promised by Obama in his North Carolina address in February 2009, all US troops have pulled out of Iraq even before the August 31, 2010 deadline, with the exception of some 50,000 boots who have stayed back to train Iraqi security forces, conduct counter-terrorism actions and ensure security for Iraqi civilians. They will leave in December 2011, some eight years after the US overthrew Saddam Hussein and his Ba’athist regime.

Entering Iraq on the pretext of rooting out weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that they alleged were being developed by Saddam Hussein, the US has been occupying a land that they invaded on a whim — no WMDs were found and the American public started losing their initial confidence in an administration that waged a war on increasingly false claims. With the toppling of Saddam Hussein, the US also brought an end to the Ba’athist army, the one largely consolidated security force in Iraq. Not only did this create the perfect situation for a civil war (Iraq has been beset by anarchy), it left the US army with too much to handle. Following General Petraeus’ orders, the US military has been training a new Iraqi army to take over once it leaves, but the turmoil is unlikely to settle down. Just a few days ago, a suicide bomber killed almost 60 people at an army recruitment centre in Baghdad. Couple that with the political vacuum created in Iraq after the March 2010 elections — resulting in a squabbling coalition — and the scene remains ripe for total chaos. For the US to enter, invade, occupy and then leave a country has proved, more often than not, that the results are devastating.

Parallels are being drawn to the situation in Afghanistan. Poised to start a troop withdrawal in July 2011, the US looks set to leave behind another country ripped apart by civil war and extremist elements. In Iraq, al Qaeda is filling the void; in Afghanistan it may well be the Taliban. It is these misadventures that have ushered in new waves of terrorism the world over.

Both these imperialist misadventures have wreaked havoc. It is hoped that the mistakes made in the Iraq war will serve as valuable lessons for the US administration so that, when it leaves Afghanistan, it does so in an environment of relatively less unrest and bloodshed. *

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