Editorial : Karachi killings - Thursday 14th April 2011

FROM innocent bystanders to political workers and high-profile party leaders, Karachi`s violence claims its victims across the spectrum of power and influence. Tuesday saw the murders of three MQM workers and the death of a teenager who was shot while working at a hotel; the ANP claims the latter was an act of ethnic violence. Just a day earlier, a senior MQM-Haqiqi leader was gunned down along with three others in broad daylight on a major thoroughfare. While this style of assassination is not new to Karachi, it points, once again, to the impunity with which targeted killings are carried out in the port city. Gunmen can simply drive up to their victims and shoot them without requiring the cover of even deserted streets or darkness. Casualties in the single digits now barely register with most residents — aside from those who live in neighbourhoods where such violence routinely takes place. For them, everything from groceries to transport becomes a luxury every time another handful of people are murdered.
What is clear from the identities of the victims and the audacious style of the killings is that they cannot be taking place without political cover. Nor, it seems, are law-enforcement authorities unaware of this link, or of the fact that these are well-organised efforts rather than random bursts of violence or acts carried out for personal reasons. A joint investigation team consisting of various law-enforcement and intelligence agencies constituted to look into targeted killings has reportedly identified over two dozen suspects affiliated with political parties including the MQM, the MQM-H and the ANP. Two of these are the government`s coalition partners in Sindh, and are also widely believed — along with the ruling party itself — to have provided cover to criminal gangs operating in certain parts of the city. While extortion and other mafia activity are crimes distinct from politically motivated targeted killing, they also take a deadly form in a city where weapons are rampant and those breaking the law are protected.
As this paper has argued repeatedly, it is high time some accountability is built into the fabric of this lawless city. If the investigation cited above really does demonstrate a link with political parties, those findings and any others should be made public instead of being leaked by unknown sources or hinted at by ruling-party politicians. They should also be used to prosecute offenders regardless of political affiliations. The residents of Karachi have suffered more than enough bloodshed, and denial should no longer be considered enough to absolve those in power from responsibility.

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/14/karachi-killings-2.html

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