Posts Tagged ‘Karachi’


By Zia Ur Rehman

October 25, 2013

A large number of Taliban militants have been killed in a recent turf war between two of their factions in the suburbs of Karachi.

Infighting between the factions of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) led by Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman began when fighters loyal to Waliur Rehman killed Sher Khan, an operational commander appointed by Hakimullah Mehsud, in the Manghopir area of Karachi on August 16.

More than 10 of Hakimullah’s key men have been killed in the city since then, a Mehsud tribal elder said. Amongst them are Soor Baba, Warghoom Kay, Spin Baba and Misray, from Sohrab Goth.  The most recent of these killings took place on September 27, when local commander Mir Hatim Mehsud died in a clash in the Gulshen-e-Buner area of Landhi.

The Waliur Rehman group has expelled the Hakimullah Mehsud faction from Landhi, Sohrab Goth, Ittehad Town, and Manghopir, amongst other areas of Karachi, according to an intelligence officer monitoring TTP activities in the city.

“The fighting between the two factions is in fact part of a larger turf war,” he said. “They had developed serious differences over money they extort from the people of Karachi.”

A source associated with the Waliur Rehman faction, who identified himself as Haji, said his men were the real heirs of Baitullah Mehsud’s TTP in Karachi. He said his group consists solely of members of the Mehsud tribe, while Hakimullah’s fighters included Swati, Mohmand, Punjabi and Mohajir men.

Taliban fighters from Swat and Mohmand went underground during the military operations that began in 2009, and moved to Karachi. Key Mehsud militants from North and South Waziristan also moved to Karachi to escape relentless US drone attacks on key Al Qaeda and Taliban targets in their area. In their new homes in the Pashtun neighborhoods of Karachi, they began to form groups based on where they had come from.

The three key factions of the TTP active in Karachi are from South Waziristan, Swat and Mohmand. Their networks are especially strong in Ittehad Town, Manghopir, Kunwari Colony, Pashtunabad, Pipri, Gulshen-e-Buner, SITE Town and some settlements in Sohrab Goth.

Mehsud militants of the TTP’s South Wazisitan faction, considered more powerful and fierce than others, are further divided into two organizational groups – one loyal to TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, and the other reporting to TTP South Waziristan chief Waliur Rehman, who was killed in a drone strike in Miranshah town of North Waziristan on May 29. The two groups do share the same broad agenda.

Hakimullah had appointed Qari Yar Muhammad the chief of his faction in Karachi, and the recently killed Sher Khan as the operational commander in the city. Waliur Rehman had appointed Khan Zaman Mehsud the commander of his group in Karachi.

Waliur Rehman’s successor Khan Saeed, also known as Sajna, strengthened the group in the port city after he won the support of all the Mehsud tribal elders of South Waziristan, a source said. He oversees the affairs of the Taliban in Karachi directly from Miranshah.

The Mohmand chapter of TTP has also strengthened its network in Karachi, collecting protection money from settlers belonging to Mohmand Agency. TTP Mohmand chief Abdul Wali, popularly known as Omar Khalid, and his spokesman Ikramullah Mohmand organized their network in the city to raise more funds.

In first week of October, law enforcement agencies claimed they had killed four Mohmand chapter leaders – Dr Maqbool, Abdul Rehman alias Lamboo, Kifayat, and Muhammad Sami – in two separate shootouts. Omar Khalid said in a press statement that the men were picked up from Quetta Town near Sohrab Goth and killed in fake encounter.

Another Taliban faction strong in Karachi belongs to militants from Swat loyal to TTP Malakand chief Mullah Fazlullah. Not much is known about its local leaders, but sources say it is being led by Ibn-e-Aqeel alias Khog, and Sher Muhammad alias Yaseen. Swati militants initially killed dozens of anti-Taliban elders and political leaders of Swat who were travelling to or living in Karachi. Then they began killing local ANP leaders and collecting protection money from the residents of areas in which they have influence.

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By Zia Ur Rehman

2-8 September, 2011

On August 17, Amjad Peshawari’s body was found in a sack in Nazimabad. “He was a tailor’s apprentice and had nothing to do with politics,” his sister said. “They killed him because he was a Pashtun.”

Amjad was among about 200 people killed in violence since the beginning of August, and among more than 1,400 people killed for political or ethnic reasons this year so far.

As ethnic tensions in the Karachi increase, a large number of those killed, according to statistics, are Pashtuns. Dozens of shops and restaurants that belonged to Pashtuns were set on fire.

Karachi hosts the largest urban Pashtun population that surpasses Peshawar, Quetta and Kandahar. Migration of Pashtuns from the northwest to Karachi began during Ayub Khan’s regime, when the economic boom and rapid industrialisation created new opportunities of employment, especially in the construction, textile and transport sectors. The hardworking Pashtuns were ready to take the low-wage jobs that the locals did not want. This was because of a lack of economic opportunities in their own province. The Pashtun contributed significantly to the economy of Karachi through labour, petty jobs and small trade. There were about 1.3 million Pashtuns in the city at the time of the 1998 census – 14 percent of the city’s entire population.



But the demography changed as new Pashtun migrants arrived from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Tribal Areas in the 2000s, particularly because of the 2005 earthquake and counter-insurgency operations from 2007 to 2011. According to new estimates, Pashtuns are now 22 percent of Karachi’s population. The changes in demography also change the political realities in the city.

Karachi has a history of urban ethnic violence which has increased since 2007. Relations between Mohajirs (Urdu speaking ethnic community) and Pashtuns have remained tense. Pashtuns mostly live in western and eastern parts of city including Sohrab Goth, Mingophir, SITE Town, Qasba Colony, Landhi Insdustrial Area, Korangi Industrial Area, Kemari, Baldia Town, Sultanabad and Pipri.

Experts believe that long ignored mass migration and settlement patterns resulted in a serious societal breakdown, leading to even serious conflict. Dr Marvin Weinbaum, a researcher at the Middle East Institute, says the Pashtuns have often left the Tribal Areas to seek their fortune in Pakistan’s economic hub Karachi, and this migration has made the Mohajirs very uneasy. “Here we have two very different cultures coming into contact with one another and again fighting over scarce resources, fighting for turf,” Weinbaum said in an interview with the Voice of America. “And a lot of it, then and now, continues to be in the category of simple criminality, which gets an ethnic patina on it.”

Arif Hasan, a prominent urban planner, believes that the failure of state institutions, bad governance and ethnicisation of politics are key factors that fuel ethnic violence and tensions in the city and strengthen ethnic political groups. “Because of the collapse of the state institutions, ethnic political groups are consulted for employment or admissions in educational institutions, and other administrative issues. As a result, these ethnic parties exploit ethnic communal support for political and personal interests,” he said.

Pashtuns, despite being second largest ethnic community, are politically underrepresented and have been kept backwards by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)-led district and provincial governments, complains Shahi Syed, president of Awami National Party (ANP) in Sindh. The discrimination against Pashtuns in Karachi was exacerbated during Gen Pervez Musharaf’s regime when he completely handed over Karachi and Hyderabad to the MQM, he alleged. “The fight in Karachi is not the fight of Pashtuns or ANP. It is a fight for control of Karachi by MQM that says Karachi and Hyderabad are theirs and no one else’s,” he claims. “According to the 1973 constitution, every Pakistani can live and do business in every city of the country. He accuses MQM of running a propaganda calling all Pashtuns Taliban. “They want this myth to be perpetuated to rid Karachi of Pashtuns.”

Karachi’s Pashtuns have traditionally aligned themselves with religious parties, but in the last few years the ethnic-based ANP has successfully projected itself as sole representative of the community.

“Rejecting the ethno-lingual politics of the ANP, Pashtuns of Karachi had voted for religious parties in 2002 general elections and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) had four Pashtun members in Sindh Asssembly and one in the National Assembly from Karachi,” said Ishaq Khan, a Pashtun leader of Jammat-e-Islami (JI), who heads the party in Karachi’s Pashtun-dominated west district. He said the ANP won two seats from Karachi this time because of an arrangement with the Pakistan People Party, and because the JI boycotted the polls.

“Of the victims of violence, around 75 percent were Pashtuns who had nothing to do with armed gangs or ANP but were killed only for basis of ethnicity,” he said.

The violence of on May 12, 2007 was a key event in Karachi’s ethnic history when dozens of Pashtuns – who wanted to welcome then-deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry – were killed. ANP’s support increased after that.

“Ethnic riots and violence did take place between 1985 and 1988, but our leaders met and reached a conclusive peace accord,” says a former leader of ANP. He said (late) Wali Khan and Altaf Hussain wanted to end ethnic violence between the two communities and they did end it at that time. But the two parties are not ready to negotiate a new truce right now.

MQM outrightly rejects ANP’s claims. It also insists it does not represent only Mohajirs. “Pashtuns don’t have economic clashes with Mohajirs. It is a wrong perception,” Gul Faraz Khattak, a Pashtun member of Rabita Committee of MQM, said in an interview. “Not all Pashtuns support the ANP. Some elements fuel ethnic violence in the city to protect their illicit businesses.” Khattak said MQM was interested in talked to the ANP if that could end ethnic violence, but the ANP leadership is not interested.

Abdul Waheed, an Asoka fellow and a social activist working in education sector in Katti Pahari, one of the areas worst hit by violence, said things were worsening. “Internal migration within the city has started because of ethnic violence and people are under pressure to sell property and move to the neighbourhoods where their ethnic community is in majority,” he said.

“Hospitals, schools and roads are now segregated on ethnic grounds and people are reluctant to go to the neighbourhoods where rival ethnic groups live,” Waheed said. “People are just being picked off the streets and killed because of their ethnic background.”

A number Pashtuns are abandoning the city, leaving behind their property and businesses. “It was very difficult for me to stay in Karachi any longer,” said Arshad Ali, a resident of Nusrat Bhutto Colony in Karachi. “I could not go to work and my children could not go to school.” Arshad has moved his family back to Swat. Many like him are thinking of doing the same. The only problem is, there are no jobs back home.

The writer is a journalist and a researcher who works on militancy and human rights. He can be contacted at

By Zia Ur Rehman

KARACHI – Security officials have made progress against extremists, forcing such groups as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and al-Qaeda to splinter into smaller cells, an indication that their network is shattered, analysts and police say.

“]Having the factions split up is an end result that has been partially achieved by such things as the deaths of extremist leaders and the cultivation of informants among the public.

“The killing of Osama bin Laden, Baitullah Mehsud and other key leaders is the main factor shattering the TTP network across the country,” Brig. Shaukat Qadir, a security analyst, told Central Asia Online. Bin Laden’s May 2 death in Abbottabad was, at the time, predicted to be a test for the militant network.

Different militant outfits collaborating with the TTP and al-Qaeda are splitting up because al-Qaeda funding has dried up, Qadir said.

“This is indeed a success of security forces against the TTP, as a large number of TTP hardcore militants as well as some al-Qaeda operatives have been apprehended in Karachi,” he said.

Hundreds of suspects caught

Police have also been working to get information from citizens.

“We have developed a strong network of … informers in militant groups that help us track down the militant outfits,” Chaudry Aslam, senior superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Sindh Police, told Central Asia Online.

That has helped with the fight.

“In 2010, we arrested 163 members of the TTP while more than 200 have been arrested from the beginning of this year,” Aslam said.

Law enforcement has hindered the activities of the Karachi TTP network by arresting three consecutive alleged amirs, or TTP heads, and dozens of members, Ikram Mehsud, a TTP leader in Karachi, admitted.

The suspected Karachi TTP chiefs whom police nabbed were Akhter Zaman Mehsud, Bahadur Khan Momand (aka Sadiq) and Maulvi Saeed Anwar, he said.

Such arrests have been “a blessing for the people” as they will slow terrorist activities in Karachi until newly appointed leaders can rebuild the network, Aslam said.

Many small terror cells discovered

But a new challenge has emerged. Every month, law enforcement agencies are uncovering new and little-known militant organisations, said Ahmed Wali, a Karachi-based senior journalist who covers militancy-related issues.

“We have developed a strong network of … informers in militant groups that help us track down the militant outfits,” Chaudry Aslam, senior superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Sindh Police, told Central Asia Online.

Such groups include Jundullah, the Badar Mansoor group, Kharooj, the Al-Mukhtar group, Punjabi Mujahidin, Al-Furqan, Laskhar-e-Balochistan and Al-Qataal – all discovered within the past year, Wali said. Splinter groups typically arise in one of two ways.

“First, when some leaders form their own outfit, abandoning their jihadi group and forming direct links with the TTP and al-Qaeda,” said Muhammad Amir Rana, director of the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies.

Second, forming a new and little-known operational cell comprising a few members who are responsible for carrying out activities in a specific geographic location,” he said, adding that this method allows the militants to dodge security officials longer.

Karachi police discovered the Badar Mansoor faction of the TTP May 12. It allegedly consists of students from Karachi academic institutions, including the University of Karachi. Four of its alleged members were planning to attack government installations and intelligence agency offices, Karachi Police Chief Saud Mirza said May 13.

The same group, operating under the name of Punjabi Mujahideen in Karachi’s colleges, was also involved in the December 28 bombing at the University of Karachi that injured four students, he added.

Karachi police discovered the Al-Mukhtar group by arresting one of its suspected key leaders in a raid April 26. Police accuse the Omar Baloch-led group of involvement in bombing a gambling den April 21. They have since learned it is a splinter group of Laskhar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) whose militants trained in South Waziristan, Fayyaz Khan, a senior CID official, told Central Asia Online.

Sindh Police’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) also arrested Abdul Qadir Kalmati (aka Rocket) April 4. They accuse of him belonging to Lashkar-e-Balochistan (LeB), a Baloch separatist group involved in attacking police stations and security installations. Kalmati has admitted under questioning that LeB is working with the TTP, said Raja Omar Khitab, the SIU’s senior superintendent of police.

Kharooj is another new and little-known militant organisation operating in Karachi that has been recruiting the young, especially students of academic institutions, the Daily Express reported May 11. The group’s leaders are hardcore militants who separated from the TTP and the LeJ after feuding with their leadership, the report added.

Dispersion may help militants

Jundullah, the Asian Tigers, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami, Jundul Hafsa and the Punjabi Taliban are the main groups that split off from the LeJ and are carrying out its subversive activities from Karachi to Waziristan, a report published last November in the Express Tribune stated.

The article stated that the LeJ is the biggest group operating in Karachi and that of 246 suspected terrorists arrested in the city since 2001, 94 belonged to the LeJ, according to a secret CID report.

However, some say breaking up and scattering the militants may improve their chances of survival.

The small cell strategy makes each cell responsible for carrying out activities in a specific geographic location, said Rana.

“And the main purpose is to divert the attention of security officers,” he said. Indeed, because so few people are in the cells and they are so scattered, their existence comes to light only “when law enforcement agencies arrest their members.”

By Zia Ur Rehman

KARACHI – Standing united against ongoing killings in Karachi, Sindh lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution June 7 demanding the government de-weaponise the province.

The resolution won support of all the political parties, including the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP). It stressed the need to carry out an indiscriminate operation across the province to recover illicit weapons before asking the public to surrender its licensed weapons, said Syed Bachal Shah, a PPP parliamentarian who introduced the bill.

“The criminals involved in targeted killings and lawlessness have taken refuge in political parties and now it is high time that the government take concrete measures to curb the violence,” Shah told Central Asia Online. He requested all political parties expel criminal elements who had destroyed peace for their own benefit.

He urged the Law Ministry to ensure that those convicted on charges of possessing illegal arms spend at least three months in jail before they can be released on bail, he said.

Last year was one of the most violent for Karachi, with 1,247 people killed, according to a Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) report. That is the most murders since 1995’s 1,742 killings, the CPLC report said. In the first five months of this year, some 400 murders have taken place, according to media reports.

Karachi murders in 2010 outnumbered the 335 suicide bombings last year that claimed 1,208 deaths, media reported. The number of violent incidents in Pakistan fell 11% from 2009 to 2010, but violence in Karachi rose 288%, according to a report by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based think tank.

Karachi’s crisis demands a well-thought-out de-weaponisation campaign, observers and anti-gun campaigners contend.

Every new wave of violence adds pressure on the government and political parties to take concrete measures, said Mir Zulfiqar Ali, an officer at the National Organisation for Working Communities (NOWC), a Karachi-based rights group.

The NOWC is running an anti-gun drive titled “Campaign for Peace” in the city and has also formed the “Karachi Peace Alliance,” consisting of civil society and professional organisations, traders, media and political parties.

Some victims of the violence were activists of political parties, but most were apolitical daily wage labourers, he said, adding that the criminal elements have joined the ranks of all political parties.

Law enforcement agencies need to keep an eye on check posts and all exit and entry points as smugglers are shipping in weapons from other provinces, said Syed Sardar Ahmed, an MQM lawmaker.

“The MQM has already tabled a de-weaponisation bill in the National Assembly with a timetable to make the entire country free of illegal weapons within three years,” Ahmed said.

Illegal arms are smuggled by land and sea to Karachi, a main port in Pakistan, ANP parliamentarian Amanullah Mehsud said.

“To stem the growing rate of killings in Karachi, the disarming of the city is the need of the hour and has to be pursued with political will … even though it is difficult,” Mehsud told Central Asia Online. He said he has survived three attempts on his life.

The unanimous approval of the de-weaponisation bill clearly shows that all political parties are willing to cleanse the city of the menace of illicit weapons, Ali said.

The government should amend Arms Rules 1924 and Pakistan Arms Ordinance 1965 and should increase the penalty for possessing illegal arms to 10 years in prison, said Iqbal Shah Khattak, a law teacher at Urdu University. Under current law, offenders get less than seven years and they are eligible for bail. A person charged with a crime that carries a 10-year term is not eligible for bail.

Various governments have taken several steps in the past to disarm the city, but they failed because those campaigns were politically motivated or targeted only a rival political group or ethnic community, Khattak said.

By Zia Ur Rehman

KARACHI – Two blasts that damaged the main railway track in the Shah Latif Town area of Karachi, and interrupted rail traffic for an hour February 17, are the latest in a recent wave of such attacks.

Two unknown men travelling by motorbike planted .5kg of explosives in Shah Latif and set them off manually, police said.

In the past week bombs throughout Sindh Province have targeted railway tracks, disrupting upcountry train service. The blasts are the work of the Sindhu Desh Liberation Army (SDLA), an underground terrorist organisation linked with the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a security official said.

The SDLA collaborates with the TTP and BLA and exchanges weapons and terrorists with them, the official said. Central Asia Online has previously reported on the links between the BLA and TTP.

More than a dozen low-intensity blasts halted train service for hours, an official of Pakistan Railways (PR) told Central Asia Online.More than a dozen low-intensity blasts halted train service for hours, an official of Pakistan Railways (PR) told Central Asia Online. On February 11 two blasts damaged the track in Karachi near the Baloch Colony area; four blasts occurred in Mehrab Pur; two were set off in Hyderabad; and four occurred in Nawab Shah. In Khairpur on blast was set off February 13; and followed one in Kotri a day earlier, the PR official said.

The explosion near the Baloch Colony bridge area in Karachi injured two people, but no injuries have been reported in the other explosions, the official added.

Rail attacks lead to financial losses

The February 11 attacks compelled PR to halt trains carrying cargo up-country, causing a loss of Rs. 5m (US $58,700), the official said. All of the damaged track have been repaired and service restored, the official said.

Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza has ordered the inspector general of police Sindh to investigate and to arrest the culprits, a government statement said.

Mirza ordered the formation of a special team to investigate and demanded a full report, according to the statement.

Officials already have created a security plan to protect the tracks with the assistance of the Sindh police and round-the-clock patrols have begun, said Superintendent of Railway Police Muzaffar Sheikh.

Law enforcement agencies have arrested dozens of suspects from Karachi, Hyderabad and Nawab Shah, Sheikh said.

The railway attacks are linked to the militancy in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and are meant to disrupt communications and foster panic, said Sharfuddin Memon, a consultant at the Sindh Home Ministry.

The locally made bombs used against the railway each contained about 1.1kg of explosive, bomb disposal officials said. They described the blasts as similar in nature and seemingly co-ordinated.

PR police found SDLA leaflets at the explosion sites, and Darya Khan, an SDLA commander, has claimed responsibility for the railway bombings throughout Sindh, a senior police official in Hyderabad told Central Asia Online. Khan also took responsibility for four explosions damaging the Guddo railway tracks in November.

The SDLA is an underground Sindhi terrorist organisation comprised of different splinter factions that broke away from various Sindhi nationalist groups. Its main commanders are Khan and Ghulam Hussain Chandio, said Ibrahim Shah, a Sukker-based Sindhi journalist.

The SDLA has bombed railway tracks in the past. It has always left pamphlets at the scene denouncing alleged atrocities against the Sindhi people and vowing to continue its struggle until Sindh gains “freedom,” Shah added.


By Zia Ur Rehman

KARACHI — Karachi’s doctors are the latest target of assassins.

Imran Wasi, who was slain January 20, was the 10th doctor killed in Karachi since May 2010.

Medics, like many other elements of the population, have suffered as the violence afflicting Karachi grew in 2010. More than 1,200 people, including nine doctors, were killed in the city in 2010, compared to 801 in 2009, according to a report of the Citizen Police Liaison Committee.

Banned terrorist organisations including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Sipah-e-Muhammad (SMP) and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), as well as extortion mafias, are primarily responsibile for the doctors’ deaths, a senior police official who runs an anti-extremism unit told Central Asia Online.


The Sindh government is preparing to pass a health commission bill to protect doctors in the form of an ordinance, a government official hinted. The bill will be tabled in the next assembly session, the date of which is still unconfirmed.


“Dr.Wasi, an ENT (ear-nose-throat) specialist, is the 10th doctor who has been targeted in the fresh wave of violence since May 2010, and doctors are scared owing to killings, threats and demands of ransom,” Dr. Samrina Hashmi, a leader of the Karachi chapter of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), told Central Asia Online.

Healthcare workers protested latest slaying

Doctors and paramedics wearing black armbands protested Wasi’s slaying, and out-patient departments (OPDs) closed for a day, but doctors still provided emergency services.

The protesters expressed concern over growing security threats to doctors, especially threats from extortionists and sectarian outfits, and asked the government to protect medical professionals.

Wasi, 55, was heading to his clinic in the Ranchore line area when two armed motorcyclists shot him, an officer at the local police station said. His killers intended to target an Urdu-speaking doctor, his family said.

Two doctors had received threats and were asked to pay ransom to save their own lives two days before Wasi’s murder, Hashmi said.

In an effort to end the OPD boycott, Karachi police chief Fayyaz Leghari formed a special committee including Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Karachi South Iqbal Mehmood and two senior police officers. The committee asked doctors to contact them if they received threats or needed protection.

Doctors have fled Pakistan out of safety concerns

Police classified eight of the 10 slayings since May 2010 as sectarian.

Thousands of doctors have left Pakistan in recent years because of growing danger.Thousands of doctors have left Pakistan in recent years because of growing danger, while 2,800 doctors from Karachi have received “Good Standing Certificates,” which are required for jobs abroad, from the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), Hashmi added.

Neither the government nor PMA has an official figure for the number of doctors who work in Pakistan or who have left, but about 6,000 doctors have fled abroad in the last 15 years because of security concerns, Hashmi told Central Asia Online.

Another 50 medical professionals have gone into hiding in Karachi after closing their clinics and quitting their jobs at hospitals since the beginning of this year, Central Asia Online has learned.

Police classified eight of the 10 slayings since May 2010 as sectarian.Police classified eight of the 10 slayings since May 2010 as sectarian, and most of the victims have been Shia Muslims, Hashmi told Central Asia Online. The LeJ kills Shia doctors and the Mehdi Force (MF) kills Sunni doctors, she added.

Recently, Sindh Police’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) broke up a key MF network allegedly involved in at least 12 sectarian targeted killings, including those of three doctors.

“The MF, which operated under the umbrella of the banned SMP, mainly targeted people, especially doctors, who were sympathisers of (the opposing) sect,” an SIU officer told Central Asia Online. The SIU arrested eight alleged MF hardcore militants, including suspected mastermind Tanveer Abbas, January 2.

The Sindh Assembly should emulate the Punjab Assembly and pass a bill making violence against on-duty doctors punishable by one year’s imprisonment or a minimum fine of Rs. 500,000 or both, Dr. Idress Adhi, president of the PMA told Central Asia Online.

Sindh Provincial Health Minister Dr. Sagheer Ahmed called for a concrete strategy to curb violence against doctors.

“Targeted killings of doctors on sectarian grounds are a conspiracy … aimed at creating fear amongst the doctors’ fraternity,” Ahmed said.



By Zia Ur Rehman

KARACHI — Worried about ongoing targeted killings and growing gun violence, civil society organisations have started a de-weaponisation campaign in Karachi, and the Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has filed a bill in the National Assembly seeking de-weaponisation across the country.

Last year was one of the most violent in Pakistan’s history, with 801 people killed in Karachi alone. That is the most murders since 1995, when 1,742 people were killed, a Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) report says.

Some 40 people have been killed in targeted killing since January 13, which led to a partial curfew in parts of the city.

The MQM filed a bill in the National Assembly on January 17 seeking de-weaponisation across the country. The proposed law would ban the production, smuggling, import and use of firearms, ammunition and weapons throughout Pakistan, said Dr. Farooq Sattar, a key leader of the MQM.

The party also suggested forming a parliamentary committee to oversee the process, he said. A public outcry for de-weaponisation has been raised with every new wave of violence in Karachi.

“The present waves of anarchy and lawlessness have necessitated a need to launch a comprehensive de-weaponisation campaign to cleanse the city from the menace of illicit weapons,” said Farhat Parveen.“The present waves of anarchy and lawlessness have necessitated a need to launch a comprehensive de-weaponisation campaign to cleanse the city from the menace of illicit weapons,” said Farhat Parveen, head of the National Organisation for Working Communities (NOWC), a Karachi-based rights organisation.

The disarmament drive — “Campaign for Peace” — is run by NOWC with the collaboration of Oxfam-Novib Pakistan, Parveen told Central Asia Online last week. Civil society and professional organisations, traders, political parties and peace activists are part of the campaign, she added.

“Even though it is a difficult task, the disarming of the city is the need of the hour and has to be perused from some point,” Parveen said. Some of the victims of the violence were political activists, but most were apolitical daily wage labourers.

Crime statistics on rise in Karachi

From 2006-09, criminals and terrorists committed 6,894 attacks with illicit arms across the country, killing 9,634 people and injuring 18,788 others. Thousands of others were kidnapped for ransom, Sattar, who is also a federal minister, said.

The number of incidents of violence in Pakistan fell 11% from 2009 to 2010, but violence in Karachi rose 288%, according to a report by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based think tank.

Targeted killings in Karachi killed more people than suicide bombings did nationwide in 2010, media reported. Last year 1,208 people died in 335 suicide bombings, while 1,247 were criminally murdered. About 95% of “hit-and-run shootings” in Karachi were carried out with 9mm and .30 calibre pistols, police sources said, adding that these small arms are readily available on the black market.

Some Karachi residents keep around 50 weapons on a single license, Rehman Malik, Federal Interior Minister, said. He added that the government is devising a strategy to stop such abuses.

“The present waves of anarchy and lawlessness have necessitated a need to launch a comprehensive de-weaponisation campaign to cleanse the city from the menace of illicit weapons,” said Farhat Parveen.

Central Asia Online has learned that the Sindh Interior Ministry has forwarded a recommendation to the Chief Minister to increase the penalties for possessing illegal weapons and make the possession of illegal weapons a non-bailable crime.

The government is amending Arms Rules 1924 and Pakistan Arms Ordinance 1965, and suggests that the penalty for keeping illegal weapons be increased to 10 years in prison, a senior Interior Ministry official told Central Asia Online.

Security affects businesses, medical care

The worsening security situation has prompted 150 businessmen and their families to leave the country, said Majyd Aziz, former head of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI). Targeted killings affect businesses as commercial areas close because of violence and riots, Aziz, who is also a leader the campaign to disarm Karachi, said.

A number of physicians from Karachi have also left Pakistan because they were victims of violence, said Dr, Samreena Hashami, an officer of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA).

The continued re-enforcement of the ideas of militarisation in the educational curriculum, and society’s emphasis on militancy were the main reasons behind the weaponisation of society, said Javed Jabbar, a former federal Minister, involved in the campaign.

“We have to focus on traditional and non-traditional education because non-traditional education including media is promoting violence,” Jabbar said. He added that law enforcement needs to be reformed to make it able to effectively de-weaponize society.

Afghan refugees choose to go home as the situation worsens in Pakistan

By Zia Ur Rehman

published in The News



“Pakistan had been a haven for war-affected Afghans for decades, but now Pakistan itself is facing the same problems of terrorism and militancy that Afghanistan has been suffering for the last three decades. We are going back to Afghanistan because Pakistan no longer offers jobs, security and peace of mind,” says Jahan Sher while returning to his home town Mazar-e-Sharif. The economy of Afghanistan has improved during the last four years, he boasts.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) claims that more Afghan refugees have returned to their homeland from Pakistan this year than in the previous year. Increasing incidents of harassment and arrests by Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies following terrorist activities in the country, poor socio-economic conditions, floods in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and increase in forcible deportation are key factors compelling the refugees to go back, refugees’ leaders and rights activists believe.

Pakistan has been host to the world’s largest refugee population. Millions of Afghans fled to Pakistan in the 1980s after the Soviet invasion and during the rule of Taliban in the late 1990s.

Currently there are some 1.6 million registered Afghans in Pakistan, with 45 per cent residing in refugees camps and the rest scattered amongst the host communities. Last year, Pakistan and the UNHCR signed an agreement to extend the stay of Afghan refugees until the end of 2010. About 3.7 million refugees have returned to Afghanistan in the past 9 years, according to UNCHR.

“A total of 1,09,383 Afghans have gone back in March-October through the UNCHR’s return programme, while the number of refugees returning to Afghanistan in 2009 was 51,290,” said Duniya Aslam Khan, UNHCR Pakistan’s Assistant Public Officer. “The number of returnees this year has increased by 51 per cent when compared to the number of people that returned in 2009. Refugees registered in the country are receiving a better assistance, transport and reintegration package, including a grant of $100,” added Khan.

“Most of the returnees cited the difficult situation in Pakistan, worst economic factors and improvement in some provinces of Afghanistan as the important reasons for their decision to return,” said Nader Farhad, a UNHCR spokesperson in Kabul.

“After the continuing terrorist attacks on offices of Pakistan’s security agencies, the crackdown against Afghan refugees, both registered and unregistered, has been accelerated across the country. Thousands of refugees have been arrested and forcibly deported,” said Haji Sohrab, the representative of Afghan refugees appointed by Afghan Consulate in Karachi. “Many Afghan refugees who do not have Proof of Registration (PoR), a document given to these refugees jointly by the government of Pakistan and UNCHR, face strict action by the police,” informed Sohrab.

“Thousands of Afghans, especially students in religious seminaries, daily wage workers and scavengers, have been arrested under the Foreign Registration Act (FRA) during the last two years and deported to their homeland,” said Iqbal Shah Khattak, a law teacher at Urdu University, Karachi.

However, refugees complain that police and law enforcement authorities have time and again raided houses in the refugee camps and other areas and arrested even those community members who had PoR.

“Refugees lived without any legal document for 28 years, till the 2007 registration when they were provided the PoR cards. This gave rise to a lot of legal problems. They could be stopped, searched and arrested under the FRA,” said Khattak, who has worked extensively on refugee rights in Karachi. Afghans in Pakistan have been regularly complaining about harassment and detention at the hands of police, he added.

“The registration process is flawed, leaving many refugees unregistered. Hence, these refugees are vulnerable to harassment and possible deportation,” maintained Sohrab. “The registration process was also marred by problems like lack of guidance, transport, translators and female registration.”

Amid crackdown against illegal Afghan immigrants across the country, industries are now forced by the government not to hire foreign workers without documentary proof, thus adding to the employment problems of refugees.

Denying the reports of arresting refugees with PoR cards, police claim they are arresting only those Afghan immigrants who are living illegally and without documentary proof. “We arrest illegal Afghan immigrants under FRA as well as the refugees involved in crimes,” said police officials, requesting anonymity. Media reports suggest hundreds of Afghan refugees have been detained by police across the country as a pre-emptive security sweep ahead of Muharram.

Majority of refugees are returning to Afghanistan because of worst flooding in Pakistan. Twenty out of 29 refugee camps across the province were swept away by flooding, destroying thousands of homes and leaving about 85,500 refugees homeless. One of the worst hit refugee villages is Azakhel in Nowshera where 23,000 people lost homes.

“Our houses were completely destroyed by the floods and the government is not able to help us,” said Khan Muhammad, an Afghan refugee living in Azakhel camp. “We are planning to go back to Afghanistan where, at least, some of our residential problems would be solved.”

Instead of going back to their villages, most of the returning refugees are settling in cities where they could find jobs easily. “Due to the prevailing insurgency in Pakistan’s tribal areas and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, thousands of Pakistani Pashtuns are coming to Afghanistan for jobs,” said Basir Ahmed Hotak, an Afghan journalist.

Majority of refugees hailing from worst-hit provinces of Afghanistan, where security situation is still critical, were reluctant to go back to their homeland. “Majority of those returning belong to northern provinces like Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat where the security situation is better,” informed Arshad Khan, a refugee from Helmand. “How can we return to places like Helmand and Kandahar where security situation is worst?”

UNHCR’s officials and refugee leaders confide to TNS that a large number of repatriated refugees are coming back to Pakistan after taking money from UNHCR. “Going back to Afghanistan was a mistake as the security and economic situation is not good in Afghanistan,” said Hafeez Shah, who recently returned to Karachi from Afghanistan.

Some of the returning refugees complain that there is no shelter, electricity, schools, hospitals and employment opportunities in Afghanistan which compelled them to come back to Pakistan.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), in its report tilted ‘Afghan Refugees in Pakistan: Push Comes to Shove’ expressed concerns over closure of refugees camps and intimidation of refugees at the hand of police.

But Najamuddin Khan, Federal Minister for SAFRON (Ministry of State and Frontier Region) said their repatriation was completely on voluntary basis and the government wants their respectful return. The ministry had suggested to UNHCR to give $5000 to each Afghan family returning to Afghanistan for shelter and livelihood there.

(The writer is an independent journalist and researcher and works on human rights, conflict and development. Email:



By Jane Perlez

Zia Ur Rehman Contributed Reporting

For New York Times

Published : Nov 18, 2010

KARACHI- Pakistan, The chaotic city of 18 million people on the shores of the Arabian Sea has never shrunk from violence. But this year, Karachi has outdone even itself.

Drive-by shootings motivated by political and ethnic rivalries have reached new heights. Marauding gangs are grabbing tracts of land to fatten their electoral rolls. Drug barons are carving out fiefs, and political parties are commonly described as having a finger in all of it.

Angry Pakistanis in Karachi, responding to a political killing, set a bus on fire in August; the city has had more than 1,350 such killings in 2010, a report says.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recently reported that more than 1,350 people had been killed in Karachi in targeted political killings so far this year, more than the number killed in terrorist attacks in all of Pakistan.

That tally has solidified Karachi’s grim distinction as Pakistan’s most deadly place, outside its actual war zones, where the army is embroiled in pushing back a Taliban insurgency.

Indeed, it is the effect of the war, which has displaced many thousands of ethnic Pashtuns from the northern tribal areas and sent them to this southern port, that has inflamed Karachi’s always volatile ethnic balance. For the most part, extremists who torment the rest of Pakistan with suicide bomb attacks exploit the turmoil here to hide, recruit and raise funds.

The attack last week on the police headquarters by a suicide bomber that killed dozens was the exception, the first attack by extremists against a government institution in the city. Far more common have been killing by gangs affiliated with ethnic-based political parties hunting for turf in a city undergoing seismic demographic change.

Karachi has long been dominated by ethnic Mohajirs, Urdu-speaking people who left India in the 1947 partition and who have been represented politically by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, commonly known as the M.Q.M.

The M.Q.M. has a long association with violence. In 1992, the army moved into Karachi to suppress it, accusing it of a four-year rampage of torture and murder. During what amounted to a two-year occupation by the army, “several thousand” people were killed, according to accounts at the time.

The latest challenge to the M.Q.M.’s hold is the influx of Pashtuns who have fled the war to seek work and shelter in Karachi’s slums. Though the Pashtuns number some five million here now, they remain politically underrepresented, and the frustrations of the newcomers have increasingly been channeled into violent retribution by the Awami National Party, or A.N.P.

The two sides have set their gangs on each other. In August, after a senior M.Q.M. member was shot to death at a funeral, more than 100 people were killed in a weeklong orgy of violence.

The army, asked by some political parties to move in again and keep the peace, declined. During the by-election last month to fill the provincial assembly seat left vacant by the murder, more than 30 people were killed.

In that rampage, members of a self-styled people’s peace committee affiliated with the Pakistan Peoples Party, which leads the national government and considers this province, Sindh, its base, stormed an outdoor market on motorcycles and shot 12 Mohajir shopkeepers, the police said.

Hours later, seven men of ethnic Baluch origin were killed, apparently in revenge for the deaths of the Mohajirs, said Zafar Baloch, a spokesman for the peace committee.

Amber Alibhai, the secretary general of Citizens for a Better Environment, said: “If our government is not going to wake up, I fear Karachi will have ethnic cleansing like Bosnia. There’s no one to stop it. Who’s going to stop it? The police? The army? They can’t.”

The cost of Karachi’s violence hurts all of Pakistan. More liberal than the rest of the country in decorum and religious belief, Karachi is the economic engine of the nation, home to petrochemical plants, steel works, advertising agencies and high-tech start-ups.

The rich live in grand houses in gated communities paved with broad boulevards. The poor live in neighborhoods like Lyari, a slum with little sanitation, fleeting electricity and hardscrabble roads that sits under an expressway.

Other megacities in the developing world — like Shanghai and Mumbai — manage law and order through political leadership that is absent in Karachi, said Farrukh Saleem, a political analyst who writes in The News, a national newspaper.

A scared, understaffed and in some cases complicit police force compounds the problem. That was the message of a new report by a parliamentary committee that said 603 police officers had been assassinated since 1996. This year, 33 officers have been killed, the report said.

Many of these senior police officers were targeted, the report said, as retribution for the military action against the M.Q.M. in 1992, a sign of the long memory of the M.Q.M.

But it is the persistent lack of Pashtun representation in the city and provincial governments that underlies the troubles, said Abdul Qadir Patel, the chairman of the committee that wrote the report and a Pakistan Peoples Party member of Parliament. “The Pashtuns are frustrated and the A.N.P. says, ‘We’ll fight back,’ ” Mr. Patel said.

In rare candor for a Pakistani government document, his report said “ethnicity, sectarianism, perceived insecurity due to demographic changes, gang war between mafias and clash of interests among workers of political parties have been the real cause of violence in Karachi.”

Of 178 boroughs in the 18 towns of Karachi, only 4 are controlled by the Pashtuns. Of 168 seats in the provincial assembly of Sindh, where Karachi is located, the A.N.P., the party of the Pashtuns, has just 2.

Based on Karachi’s demographics, Pashtuns “could have up to 25 seats in the provincial legislature,” Mr. Saleem wrote. “That is political power way out of sync with demographic realities.”

As part of the push and pull in the demographic war, the major political parties use armed thugs to commandeer public land so they can gerrymander election districts, said Mrs. Alibhai of the citizens’ group. One of her group’s workers was killed last year trying to protect a park.

“Land grabbing is used by political parties to increase their electoral mandate and enhance their financial position,” she said.

A recent former M.Q.M. mayor of Karachi, Syed Mustafa Kamal, denied that his party, which has long been favored by Washington for its secular outlook, was involved in the killing of Pashtuns.

Mr. Kamal, who as mayor from 2005 until this year is credited with extending running water to several Pashtun neighborhoods, said Karachi was the rightful home of the Mohajirs. The Pashtun, he said, harbor the Taliban and foment terrorist attacks. “We are the victims,” he insisted.

The gruesome clash between the Mohajirs and the Pashtuns has spread recently to the stalls in Gulshen Town, a Mohajir-dominated area, where people sip tea and chat.

There, Pashtun waiters who deliver hunks of roasted lamb to truck drivers at curbside tables, have become targets, said Noorullah Achakzai, the chairman of a union of hotel workers.

In April, Abdul Rehman, 35, said he was eating lunch with a friend when six men on three motorcycles fired at them. “I got one bullet, my friend got one, the others were scattered,” he said.

Mr. Rehman showed a long scar across his stomach. His friend died, one of the first, Mr. Achakzai said, of 52 outdoor waiters killed in Karachi this year.

By Zia Ur Rehman and Javed Mahmood

KARACHI – Four officers of the Sindh Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) who shattered the network of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other banned organisations in Karachi, were key targets of the November 11 bombing of the CID building but escaped injury, Central Asia Online has learned.

“]The deadly attack began as an armed assualt and ended with a truck bomb that killed at least 20 people and wounded about 100 others, including women and children. The police reportedly used the building to detain and interrogate suspects accused of belonging to TTP and other banned organisations.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Chaudry Aslam Khan, SSP Fayyaz Khan, SSP Omar Shahid and SP Mazhar Mashwani were the main targets, a CID official told the Central Asia Online.

That four-man team oversees the anti-extremism cell and runs counter-terrorism operations in the city. It arrested hundreds of key leaders of the TTP, Lashkar-e-Janghvi (LeJ) and other banned jihadi organisations in a massive crackdown in Karachi, the official added.

“At the time of attack, luckily the four officers were not present at the building,” said the official.

First four attackers’ fates unknown

The four terrorists who entered the building before the blast might be dead, police officials said November 12.

“Four attackers penetrated the CID building by jumping over the wall a few minutes before the blast, and they exchanged bullets with the police,” Iftikhar Tarar, deputy inspector general of investigation in the CID of Karachi, told Central Asia Online.

“We believe that all the four attackers have also lost their lives in the bomb blast,” he said. “It would be premature to say anything about the attackers who remained outside the building.”

So far authorities know of nine policemen among the dead, he said.

He said the death toll could rise if rescue workers recover more bodies under the debris.

The initial investigation showed that ten attackers hit the building, Sindh inspector general of police Salahuddin Babar Khattak said. Investigators are tracing the culprits’ identities, he added.

Counter-terror team had solid resume

The four-man CID counter-terrorist team had arrested six LeJ activists November 10. It linked the suspects to Asif Ramzi’s faction, which allegedly was involved in deadly attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas. The arrested suspects allegedly were planning sectarian killings in the city during the Islamic holy month of Muharram.

On the same day, Aslam Khan arrested Iqbal Bajauri, a militant leader from Bajaur Agency and a close aide of Maulana Faqir Muhammad, TTP’s central leader, from Minghophir.

In 2002, militants sent parcel bombs to some senior police officers, including then-Karachi police chief Tariq Jamil and Fayyaz Khan.

Fayyaz Khan was critically injured. Some credit him with arresting more than 100 high-profile terrorist suspects linked to the TTP and LeJ this year.

The CID has largely broken the TTP’s network in the city by arresting several consecutive amirs (heads) appointed for Karachi, including Akhter Zaman Mehsud and his successors, Bahadur Khan Momand (alias Sadiq) and Maulvi Saeed Anwer, a CID official said. The official said Aslam Khan and his team snatched them all.

The TTP swiftly took responsibility for the blast, saying it was meant to avenge “the arrest” of its comrades. However, Interior Minister Rehman Malik November 12 disputed that claim, saying the LeJ committed the bombing.

“By attacking the CID building, they want to give us a message that they are still alive and could strike back,” Shahid told Central Asia Online, adding that the CID will continue its anti-militant crackdown.

The militants raise funds through extortion, armed robberies and kidnappings and send the money to tribal areas where the TTP-linked militants plan terrorist acts, Shahid said. Dozens of arrests by the CID have disrupted militant fund-raising in the city, he added.

Some police sources theorise that the militants were trying to free Bajauri. However, he was not in the building.

CID attack harms civilians

Civilian casualties in the neighbourhood were numerous. A dozen houses in the nearby Civil Lines residential neighbourhood sustained damage, Moqeem Alam, a local MPA, told Central Asia Online. Most of the civilians injured were women and children, he said. Authorities have suspended gas, electricity and water service because of damage to pipelines.

Police, military and paramilitary contingents have closed off public access to the area. Authorities are searching the neighbourhood for any attackers who escaped.

“We were watching the news on TV when the firing started, then suddenly lights went out, and we heard a massive blast,” said Zarshad, a local resident who is hospitalised after a concrete slab hit him.

Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, accompanied by provincial Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, visited the blast site to review the rescue and relief work. Shah gave assurances of the government’s all-out support for the victims and said the government would keep fighting terrorism.