At least 10 more people were killed in Karachi on ethnic and sectarian grounds last week, amidst the heated debate of new provinces in the country.
It seems that the waters of Karachi are being tested for another round of confrontation in 2012, as none of the actors involved are ready to step back.
The ethnic mix in Karachi has always been exploited by mainstream political parties. Likewise, the religious parties have also failed miserably to unite people from different origins on common grounds. They seem to be standing far away from the principles of unity and peace, propagated by the religion.
According to reports in international media, the deaths from targeted killings in Karachi have outnumbered the deaths due to suicide blasts in last few years. In 2010, Pakistan lost 1,028 lives due to 335 incidents of suicide bombings, whereas, in Karachi alone people assassinated by ethnically motivated target killers were 1,233. For 2011, the numbers are no different.
The top media outlets of Pakistan are equally responsible for the tense atmosphere of hatred and racism. Sometimes, it feels that the powerful ‘free’ media is playing party to fuel ethnic and sectarian violence in the city, by using inappropriate words, giving imbalanced coverage to either parties and setting agendas before and after incidents of violence and terrorism.
The ground realities have also gone far more bitter than what we perceive from media. Targeted irrational activities by unidentified people, from all ethnicities, in areas such as Abul Hasan Isphani Road, Gulberg, Gulistan-e-Johar and North Karachi are being continuously witnessed by residents.
The ‘actors’ involved in the game are exercising their restless efforts to fuel tensions in these areas by asking citizens to vacate their homes, killing long-settled residents and targeting them with extortion. Religious people with extremist mindsets and citizens with ethnic backgrounds are falling prey to the game. Most of the ‘neutral’ lot has started associating them with one side of the conflict, which is resulting in more polarization.
This emerging culture of hatred and hostility has finally started causing irreversible damage to Pakistan. To add to this, the not so sane political parties are actively tabling around demands for new provinces, just not at the right time. The pro and against ’debates’ for new provinces in National Assembly and in public meetings are setting agendas for people. The political parties are striking hard when the iron is hot, overlooking the cost people will have to pay.
The civil society, youth and silent majority of Pakistan, which has not been so silent over the last few months, are far more sensible than falling into the trap of dirty politicians. Social media and other forms of communication have given them more strength than ever. They are indulging actively into shaping the future course of action for politicians and sincere leadership of the country. Its high time the civil society play a role in converging ethnic mix to strength, rather than a weakness.
If people know what they want, they get it!