Karachi’s turf wars

News reports pouring in from Karachi suggest that the MQM has once again dug in its heels and is not responding to the PPP’s entreaties to remain a coalition partner in Sindh. Tempers of the MQM flared up once again when Sindh’s home minister said while addressing a gathering in Lyari that People’s Amn Committee is part of the PPP. In response, the MQM has said that Amn Committee is a body of extortionists and criminals and the PPP’s owning it means that it is patronising these elements. However, the PPP is not the only party that should be blamed for this trend. It was the MQM that laid the foundation of the bhatta (extortion) culture in Karachi, which was followed by other parties to preserve their respective turfs. The targeted killings in Karachi are the result of these turf wars. There are political tensions between Sindhis and Mohajirs and Pashtuns and Mohajirs, which also have a criminal dimension to them.

Despite MQM’s known resentment against Zulfikar Mirza, the gung-ho home minister of Sindh, it seems he intends to play the Sindhi nationalist card and make the MQM leave the coalition. However, his provocations go directly against what the central leadership is trying to achieve. There might be a strategy behind these provocations because he received a hero’s welcome in the Sindh Assembly after his address in Lyari. But this is still not clear, because the idea of removing Zulfikar Mirza to appease MQM has also been floated. One cannot say with certainty whether this will cool down the MQM or not, because Karachi’s largest political party seems to have made up its mind to part ways with the PPP, repositioning itself in the light of recent developments on the political scene. However, this should not translate into more violence than is already taking place in Karachi. The PPP, being the biggest party in Sindh, will have to take the lead to mediate between the ANP and MQM and also clear up its own differences to prevent further bloodshed – Dailytimes