Karachi burns again

RETURN of violence to Pakistan’s commercial capital Karachi marked the end of the post general election honeymoon. Even as elements of the new coalition setup and representatives of the lawyer community make frantic, and to an extent justifiable, attempts to clear their names, there can be little denying the damage both have incurred in the short time since capturing the limelight.

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Published: Fri 11 Apr 2008, 9:48 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:54 PM

In their defence, it seems lost on most analysts that the country’s working machinery is still being manned by the caretaker setup that took office to oversee fair elections and smooth transition of power. As such, the burden of command should put the bulk of the blame on them. Musharraf loyal PML(Q) stalwarts no doubt realise that the intermediary government’s ranks were deliberately filled with their own men, which is why their tossing blame on adversaries sells only to the most unenlightened.

Troublemakers behind insulting treatment meted out recently to two pre-Feb 18 Musharraf government strongmen can offer no acceptable justification for their actions. The matter of inadequate security during the second incident, when former minister Sher Afghan Niazi was roughed up, should not subside before a thorough explanation has been put forward by those charged with security details. Interestingly, the media has done a fine job of exposing some of those directly involved in the foul play as plain-clothed thugs not belonging to the lawyer community. Some sections’ claims of government agencies’ involvement might not be too far from the truth.

On a more serious note, the lawyers cannot escape responsibility for the tussle between groups of their own belonging to rival political parties, triggering clashes across the city. What followed of the despicable row shut down businesses, inconvenienced ordinary people, caused untold amounts of economic loss, took several lives, and brought shame to a community held in respect of late owing to what appeared their commitment to democratic norms.

Karachi embroiled in turmoil yet again sends extremely negative signals to the rest of the world. At the least, most have already started wondering if the praise showered on Pakistan for the people’s resolute support for the return to democracy was deserving after all. There is a lot to do for those in charge lest whatever is left of the gains is squandered. For a start, the big guns claiming correct credentials for stepping into the biggest shoes should display greater maturity and begin settling differences that do not become the political stature they aspire for. That differences, even ideological, can assume proportions too big to handle was amply displayed in Karachi, hopefully for the last time.

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