The shocking assassination of Chaudhry Aslam Khan, a dare devil Pakistani super-cop known for his tough stance towards militants and criminals, in a car bomb suicide attack engineered by Tehrek-e-Taliban Pakistan(TTP) in the violent prone, crime ridden city of Karachi early this year has once again underscored a sense of “hopelessness and helplessness” gripping this throbbing commercial hub of Pakistan. Indeed, murder for profit and political gain as well as kidnapping for ransom has all become a thriving cottage industry in this city of 20-million where 5-lakh terrorists are active. “The wave of killings is mainly due to an increase in sectarian violence though killings for political and criminal motives are also on the upward swing,” says a leading Pakistani human rights activist.
With a murder rate of 12.3 for every 100,000 citizens, Karachi is the most dangerous megacity in the world to live. Increasing poverty and unemployment push many young men into acts of violence and crime.
The thriving transport business in Karachi was a follow out of the US led invasion in the neighbouring Afghanistan. There are approximately 20-million Pashtuns in Karachi. This implies that there are more Pashtuns in Karachi than in Peshawar. In public perception, Pashtuns are considered sympathetic to the cause of Taliban and large Pashtun population in Karachi makes it easier for Taliban to spread its message of extremism. Factional feuds between the rival Taliban gangs leading to the pitched street battles in Karachi has become a routine affair.
With ethnic rivalries and economic interests coming to a flashpoint, the gang wars between Mohajirs and Pashtuns became a primary tool for achieving political objectives and social supremacy. Not surprisingly then, a large segment of the people getting killed in Karachi belong to political outfits—PPP (Pakistan People’s party, MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) and ANP (Awami National Party).
Looting of banks, financial agencies and many more are reported regularly in Karachi. The pity is that there is just one police officer for every 2,000 people in Karachi. And not surprisingly then the poorly motivated and ill equipped police force finds difficult to curb crime and violence in the city where the criminal gangs, private militias, are better equipped than the law enforcing agencies. Lyari suburb of Karachi is considered out of bound for police forces. Gangsters in Lyari use children and women as human shield.
Suicide bombings by Taliban and other fundamentalist groups, sectarian violence, political gang wars, business interests turning their guns on rivals have all gone to turn Karachi into war zone. The daredevil attack on the high security PNS Mehran naval air base near to Karachi by six Taliban militants in May 2011 did send shockwaves through the defence establishment of Pakistan. For the suffering citizens of Karachi it is a proof of growing clout of radical outfits. As political commentators point out the social, cultural, religious and political milieu of Karachi is tailor made for the terrorist groups bent upon expanding their area of influence.
Karachi did not evolve into a terrorist hub overnight. For the seeds of extremism in Karachi were laid in the aftermath of Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in late 1970s. As it is, Afghan warlords belonging to various tribal groups found it profitable to use Pakistan as a transhipment point for heroin, arms and stringer missiles through Karachi before being loaded onto the trucks bound for Peshawar, from where camels carried the arms to the mountainous interiors of Afghanistan. And this two way commerce left a toxic imprint on Karachi slowly transforming the city into a den of violence, gang wars, extortion and assassinations.
Each dawn and dusk brings news of death, bloodletting and violence. There has been a fivefold increase in the number of killings over the last three years. Investigation reveal mostly bought from the neighbouring province of Balochistan where well armed Baloch rebels fighting for an independent homeland for Balochs are strongly entrenched, Stacked in the concealed counters of passengers buses and truck carrying animal feed and fodder the arms and ammunition are difficult for the law enforcing agencies in Karachi to detect.
Many consider the cult of violence and threat of terror eating into the vitals of Karachi as a fall out of unplanned urban growth. All said and done, leaving Karachi to is fate could prove costly to Pakistan. For Karachi is vital to Pakistan’s security interests as it is Pakistan’s industrial and economic growth.
For now, Karachi stands out as veritable dark heart of Pakistan, a failed state that is not sure of where it is heading for.
Withdrawal of Lord Ganesha swimwear after Hindus protest
New York based Mara Hoffman removed swimwear carrying image of Lord Ganesha from its website within 24 hours after Hindus protested, calling it inappropriate.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded this protest, in a statement in Nevada (USA), thanked Mara Hoffman, Neiman Marcus and Amazon.com for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which thought Lord Ganesha’s image on swimwear was inappropriate.
Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, suggested corporations to send their senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity. He sold that earlier too that Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines andnot for pushing swimwear for mercantile greed. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as God of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking.
US-Russia set for talks on Ukraine tension
The tense, high-stakes standoff between Ukraine and Russia continued, with both sides insisting that they don’t want a war but offering little evidence of their willingness to budge publicly. While no blood has been spilled between the Ukrainian and Russian militaries, no one is breathing easy. The tense stand-off continued overnight in Crimea, but there were no reports of any violence.
Both sides have hinted that they are ready to start a dialogue. US secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due to hold crucial talks to try to ease tensions over the Ukraine Crisis. They both are expected to meet on the sidelines of a long-planned conference in Paris. During a visit to the Ukrainian capital Kiev on March 5, Mr Kerry said there was no indication at all that Russian citizens or Russian-speakers were in any danger in post-uprising Ukraine. Earlier this week tensions escalated further over Russia’s warnings that it could also move into eastern Ukraine to protect Russians and Russian-speakers there.
The battle over Ukraine’s future also looks economic, Russia has cranked up the pressure by ending discounts on its natural gas supplies, while the US and European Union offered quick-fix aid to the beleaguered Government.
Chinese media voices against
Kunming terrorist attack
China and Pakistan signed agreements for energy and infrastructure projects recently as they vowed to soon give “practical shape” to a trade and transport corridor linking the neighbours. Among the papers signed are memorandums of understanding on construction on the new Gwadar International airport, upgrading part of the Karakorum highway linking the nations and establishing a joint research center for hydropower technology. But the recent attack on March 1 in which almost 33 people dead will somehow affect the relation of these two countries.
In past China has blamed Uygur “militants” trained in Pakistanfor the deadly violence in its Xinjiang province which left at least 22 people dead. Xinjiang shares a border with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and China blames the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for fomenting trouble in the province. China witnessed a deadly terrorist attack in its pictureque southern provincial capital, Kunming. The Xinhua News agency initially reported the attack by ‘thugs’ and soon termed it a ‘terrorist attack’. The National and provincial news papers were censored from publishing new items with photographs. Official Xinhua news agency compared the incident as “China’s 9/11″. People’s Dailycriticised the US media for using ‘double standards’ while reporting the incident.The Kunming Times quoted the local government and immediately reported, “Evidence at the scene indicates separatists from Xinjiang were responsible”.
The Chinese social media posted criticism and public anguish. Most of the blogs criticised the initial response from the western media, a reputed Chinesesohu.comwrote that including the US Cable News Network (CNN), the Associated Press, ‘The New York Times’, ‘Washington Post’ reports were cynical, logically confused and display their hidden motives. The website continued alleging that the Western media reports were reluctant to use the word ‘terrorists’ which are infuriating. The blogs also underlined the anxiety over international contours of the incident.
Past incidents of organised terrorists attacks inChina
pDecember 30, 2013 – Kashi, Xinjinag – 8 people died.
pDecember 17, 2013 – Kashi, Xinjinag – 16 people died.
pApril 23. 2013 – Kashi, Xinjiang – 15 people died.
pFebruary 28, 2012 – Kashi, Xinjinag – 12 people died.
pJuly 30, 2011 – Kashi, Xinjinag – 8 people died.
p31 July 2011 – Kashi, Xinjinag – 5 people died.
p5 July 2009 –Urumqi, Xinjinag – 197 people dead