If you want to measure the level of political strife in Karachi, take the body count at the morgue. “There are 30 to 40 bodies some weeks,” said morgue worker Miraj Mohsin. “When just one member of a party is killed, I know the other will respond and there could be many more deaths.”
He held up a tag attached to a victim of Karachi’s notorious targeted killings, often blamed on workers from rival political parties.
The man’s remains provided clues to his final moments before being shot in the back of the head — the padlocked chain still binding his hands, the bruises on his spine suggesting torture.
In some ways, Karachi raises more troubling questions over Pakistan’s stability than the northwest border regions seen as a global hub for militants, which the West worries about so much.
Samina Ahmed, Pakistan director at International Crisis Group, said political tensions are the biggest danger to Karachi at the moment, especially if the provincial coalition comes under too much strain that leads to more violence.
“Karachi is the financial hub of Pakistan. If Karachi goes down the rest of the country does as well,” she said.
While army offensives are capable of disrupting Pakistan’s Taliban insurgents — who are linked to al Qaeda — containing destructive forces in Pakistan’s biggest city seems impossible.
Criminal gangs, the mafia, extortionists, drug lords, weapons dealers and land grabbers ruthlessly guard their turf and in some cases are allegedly linked to political parties.
Karachi, home to 18 million people, looks like many other congested big cities. But those criminals make big headlines. An outgunned and underfunded police force of just 33,000 is in no position to take them on.
Karachi has a long history of ethnic, religious and sectarian violence. Hundreds of targeted killings this year have raised concerns that violence would escalate and create new crises for the U.S.-backed Islamabad government, however – Nation