Nexus of Crime and Politics Hurting Pakistan Economy

Former Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza's dramatic August 28 press conference with a copy of the Holy Quran in his hand has become the center of news media attention in recent days.



Following this highly emotion-charged press conference which was carried live by almost all of the mainstream TV channels, Mirza has been hailed as a hero by some of the most popular TV talking heads for railing against MQM's top leadership, and for singling out Pakistan Peoples Party leader and Federal Home Minister Rehman Malik for his harshest accusations.

To assess the extent of Mirza's credibility, it is important to understand the following:

1. What triggered the latest of Mirza's outbursts? Was it Malik's decision to send the Rangers in to the Lyari neighborhood of Karachi?

2. When Mirza used a copy of the Holy Quran in the month of Ramadan to convey his sincerity, did he really tell the whole truth? or did he leave out the ugly truths about the horrific crimes committed by Karachi's armed gangs controlled by him and his ANP political allies?

The answer to both of the above questions can be found in the fact that Mirza's press conference occurred soon after he learned about the Pakistan Rangers' operation to clean out gang-infested Lyari. This operation was authorized by Rehman Malik over the objections of Mirza and without Mirza's prior knowledge to prevent him tipping off his gangster allies in Lyari.

During the Lyari operation, the Rangers discovered the horror chambers that were used to torture and kill people in recent weeks. The badly mutilated bodies of these torture victims were stuffed in bags and dumped in various parts of the city to create widespread fear. The perpetrators were none other than Mirza's allies who falsely labeled their gangs as "People's Amn (Peace) Committee" or PAC.

The Rangers also arrested 133 suspects and seized automatic weapons and ammunition that were concealed in a ditch inside a house. They also found rockets, grenades, nine sub-machine guns and hundreds of bullet rounds once they dug out the makeshift arsenal, according to the Express Tribune newspaper report.

The torture cells were found in the Nayyabad area of Lyari. One was underground while the other was on the first floor. Both were outfitted with chains, chairs, tape for gagging victims, ropes, and power tools to dismember bodies. Jackets, sacks and documents were strewn on the floor along with the uniform an indicating the identity of the victims as members of the MQM's Khimat-e-Khalq Foundation.

The TV news-anchors, talk-show hosts, and the print media reporters must not give Zulfikar Mirza a free pass when he tells the truth only selectively to hide his own misdeeds and the crimes of his political allies in patronizing criminal gangs. Nor should other politicians be spared the tough questions about their culpability in destroying Karachi's peace, and for seriously undermining Pakistan's economy. Pakistan's media must play their crucial role in exposing the growing nexus between crime and politics in Karachi, and the rest of Pakistan.

We must not forget that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Related Links:

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Eleven Days in Karachi

Pakistan Most Urbanized in South Asia

Karachi: The Urban Frontier

Do Asia's Urban Slums Offer Hope?

Orangi is Not Dharavi

Climate Change Could Flood Karachi Coastline

Karachi Fourth Cheapest For Expats

Karachi City Government

Karachi Dreams Big

Pakistan Census 2011

Jinnah's Vision of Pakistan

High Cost of Failure to Aid Flood Victims

World Memon Organization

Urbanization in Pakistan Highest in South Asia

Comments

Anonymous said…
Mirza has told about the tipping point in capital talk that he came out open when rehman malik decided to take killer caught in chakra goth incident on some pretext to islamabad the to free them there.

he has admitted about gangs in ANP n PPP and said it clearly those were made to defend themselves against MQM terror. He has given details of all the arms that MQM got during mush period through shipping minister.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an interesting excerpt from a Friday Times story about the centrality of Karachi to the NATO war effort in Afghanistan, and how it impacts the politics and peace (or rather the lack of it) in Pakistan's financial capital:

"Over the years Karachi has become one of the most important cities of the world not because of its ethnic tensions but because of its strategic location and the port which receives more than 80 percent of NATO supplies," a senior foreign diplomat said. ...

Americans have built one of the largest consulates in the world in Karachi and have repeatedly used British diplomats to pressure MQM - one of the largest stakeholders in Karachi - to maintain peace in the city. According to one source, the ANP has huge stakes in NATO supplies and has strong influence among Karachi's transporters.

---
In Karachi, there are many third-tier sub-contractors working for NATO, most of them of Pashtun and Mehsud origin. They get contracts from second-tier sub-contractors from Dubai, who the contracts have been outsourced to from contractors in Washington, DC.

One such sub-contractor, Abdul Hakim Mehsud said, "Its one of the toughest jobs in the world - recently over 13 of my trucks and three of my drivers had been vanished in interior Sindh. But the profit margins are high and that keeps me motivated."
----
"In December 2008, militants destroyed 400 containers carrying food, fuel, and military vehicles," a NATO source said. After that, NATO and ISAF began paying tribes to ensure supplies get across safe.

Karachi's ethnic riots, political instability, and sectarianism have earned it the reputation of being the world's most dangerous city. In the last four years, over 5,000 people have been killed in politically-motivated violence. Not very long ago, it hosted Al Qaeda's operational headquarters. It is still considered by many as a Taliban stronghold.

In Karachi's chemical markets, ammonium nitrate is produced by fertiliser companies. While the chemical is on the Pakistani customs control list, it is widely available in open market. This ammonium nitrate is used in improvised explosive devices that account for 66 percent of foreign casualties in Afghanistan since the war started in 2001. The makeshift bombs have claimed 368 troops in 2010. This year, the number has already reached 143.

"We can deliver you big quantities of the chemical at the right price," said Ahmed Jan, a local smuggler, one of the few willing to speak on the record. "For a higher price we can deliver you the items in Afghanistan."

The US Consulate and Pakistani customs intelligence have been working closely to stop the smuggling.

Earlier this year, the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Commerce was informed that more than 6,000 trucks of NATO/ISAF supplies had not reached in Chaman and Iman Garh borders. The disclosure sparked an internal auditing within NLC and FBR and corruption of Rs7 billion was found. The FBR and NLC had reportedly issued notices to 21 and 22 grade officers and had put 100 of its officers and clearing/forwarding agents in the Exit Control List.

-------
The attacks are not likely to stop any time soon, according to a foreign diplomat, "But we have made pacts with warlords, tribes and various stakeholders in Pakistan who ensure safe transit of the goods. They include political parties both in Pakistan and Afghanistan."


http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20110902&page=6
Riaz Haq said…
Here are excerpts from Wikileaks on the "Gangs of Karachi":

US embassy cable - 09KARACHI138
SINDH - THE GANGS OF KARACHI
Identifier: 09KARACHI138
Origin: Consulate Karachi
Created: 2009-04-22 11:52:00

Summary: The police in Karachi are only one of several armed groups in the city, and they are probably not the most numerous or best equipped. Many neighborhoods are considered by the police to be no-go zones in which even the intelligence services have a difficult time operating. Very
few of the groups are traditional criminal gangs. Most are associated with a political party, a social movement, or terrorist activity, and their presence in the volatile ethnic mix of the world,s fourth largest city creates enormous political and governance challenges.
---------
MQM\'s armed members, known as \"Good Friends,\" are the
largest non-governmental armed element in the city. The police estimate
MQM has ten thousand active armed members and as many as twenty-five thousand armed fighters in reserve.
This is compared to the city\'s thirty-three thousand police officers. The party operates through its 100 Sector Commanders, who take their orders directly from the party leader, Altaf Hussain, who lives in exile in the United Kingdom.
--------
Low to middle-ranked police officials acknowledge the extortion and the likely veracity of the other charges. A senior police officer said, in the past eight years alone,MQM was issued over a million arms licenses, mostly for
handguns. Post (Consulate) has observed MQM security personnel carrying numerous shoulder-fired weapons, ranging from new European
AKMs to crude AK copies, probably produced in local shops.

MQM controls the following neighborhoods in Karachi:
Gulberg, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Korangi, Landhi, Liaquatabad, Malir, Nazimabad, New Karachi, North Nazimabad, Orangi Town, Saddar and Shah Faisal.
-------------
The ANP represents the ethnic Pashtuns in Karachi. The local Pashtuns do possess personal weapons, following the
tribal traditions of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP),
and there are indications they have begun to organize formal armed groups. With the onset of combat operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in August 2008, a growing number of Pashtuns fled south to swell the Pashtun ranks of that already is the largest Pashtun city in the world. This has increased tensions between ANP and MQM........contd

http://tacstrat.com/content/?p=4362
Riaz Haq said…
Here are excerpts (contd) from Wikileaks on the "Gangs of Karachi":

7. (S) If rhetoric of the police and the ANP leadership is to be believed, these armed elements may be preparing to challenge MQM control of Karachi. In March, the Karachi Police Special Branch submitted a report to the Inspector General of Police in which it mentioned the presence of \"hard-line\" Pashtuns in the Sohrab Goth neighborhood. Sohrab Goth is located in the Northeast of the city.

8. (S) The report said this neighborhood was becoming a no-go
area for the police. The report went on to claim the Pashtuns are involved in drug trafficking and gun running and
if police wanted to move in the area they had to do so in civilian clothing. A senior member of the Intelligence Bureau in Karachi recently opined that the ANP would not move
against MQM until the next elections, but the police report ANP gunmen are already fighting MQM gunmen over
protection-racket turf.
---------
10. (S) PPP is a political party led by, and centered on the Bhutto family. The party enjoys significant support in
Karachi, especially among the Sindhi and Baloch populations. Traditionally, the party has not run an armed wing, but the workers of the PPP do possess weapons, both licensed and unlicensed. With PPP in control of the provincial government and having an influential member in place as the Home Minister, a large number of weapons permits are currently being issued to PPP workers. A police official recently told
Post that he believes, given the volume of weapons permits being issued to PPP members, the party will soon be as
well-armed as MQM. Gangs in Lyari: Arshad Pappoo (AP) and Rahman Dakait (RD)
11. (S) AP and RD are two traditional criminal gangs that
have been fighting each other since the turn of the century in the Lyari district of Karachi. Both gangs gave their political support to PPP in the parliamentary elections. The
gangs got their start with drug trafficking in Lyari and later included the more serious crimes of kidnapping and robbery in other parts of Karachi. (Comment: Kidnapping is such a problem in the city that the Home Secretary once asked Post for small tracking devices that could be planted under
the skin of upper-class citizens and a
satellite to track the devices if they were kidnapped. End comment.)

12. (S) Each group has only about 200 hard-core armed fighters but, according to police, various people in Lyari
have around 6,000 handguns, which are duly authorized through valid weapons permits. In addition, the gangs are in
possession of a large number of unlicensed AK-47 rifles,
Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers and hand grenades. The weapons are carried openly and used against each other as
well as any police or Rangers who enter the area during security operations. During police incursions, the gang
members maintain the tactical advantage by using the narrow streets and interconnected houses. There are some parts of Lyari that are inaccessible to law enforcement agencies...

http://tacstrat.com/content/?p=4362
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt from a piece in Express Tribune:

...Karachi contains 62 per cent of Sindh’s urban population; 30 per cent of Sindh’s total population; and 22 per cent of Pakistan’s urban population. Lahore, the second largest city in Pakistan, on the other hand, contains only 22 per cent of Punjab’s urban population; seven per cent of Punjab’s total population; and 12 per cent of Pakistan’s urban population. Individually, the other major cities are a very small fraction of Karachi and Lahore.

Karachi’s large-scale industrial sector employees make up 71.6 per cent of the total industrial labour force in Sindh; 74.8 per cent of the total industrial output of the province is produced in Karachi; and 78 per cent of formal private sector jobs of the province are located in Karachi.

Then there are powerful federal government interests as well, in the form of the Karachi Port Trust, Port Qasim, Customs, Railways, Civil Aviation Authority and the armed forces and their various industrial and real estate activities. The city contains 32 per cent of the total industrial establishment of the country; generates 15 per cent of the national GDP, 25 per cent of federal revenues and 62 per cent of income tax. Also, the most important health, education, recreation, entertainment and media-related institutions in the province, are located in the city and so are the provincial headquarters.

Provincial and state governments always have conflicts with powerful autonomous cities since the non-city population of the province or state feels that the city and its assets do not belong to them. Even in a relatively homogeneous country like Thailand, Bangkok was seen by the anti-government Red Shirt Movement as responsible for deprivation and inequity in the country.

The second issue is related to the changing demography of Sindh. There is a fear among the Sindhi-speaking population (in which I include Balochi, Seraiki and Brahvi speakers as well) that they are being converted into a minority in their province. Let us see how real this perception is.

Seventy-three per cent of Karachi’s population in 1941 said that their mother tongue consisted of one of the local provincial languages, 6.2 per cent said it was Urdu/Hindi, and 2.8 per cent said it was Punjabi. Pashtu at that time was nonexistent. In 1998, the local languages had declined to 14 per cent, Urdu increased to 48.52 per cent, Punjabi to 14 per cent and Pashtu stood at 11.42 per cent....


http://tribune.com.pk/story/319333/sindh-local-government-the-real-issues/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a NY Times report on growing Taliban presence in Karachi:

KARACHI, Pakistan — This seaside metropolis is no stranger to gangland violence, driven for years by a motley collection of armed groups who battle over money, turf and votes.

But there is a new gang in town. Hundreds of miles from their homeland in the mountainous northwest, Pakistani Taliban fighters have started to flex their muscles more forcefully in parts of this vast city, and they are openly taking ground.

Taliban gunmen have mounted guerrilla assaults on police stations, killing scores of officers. They have stepped up extortion rackets that target rich businessmen and traders, and shot dead public health workers engaged in polio vaccination efforts. In some neighborhoods, Taliban clerics have started to mediate disputes through a parallel judicial system.

The grab for influence and power in Karachi shows that the Taliban have been able to extend their reach across Pakistan, even here in the country’s most populous city, with about 20 million inhabitants. No longer can they be written off as endemic only to the country’s frontier regions.

In joining Karachi’s street wars, the Taliban are upending a long-established network of competing criminal, ethnic and political armed groups in this combustible city. The difference is that the Taliban’s agenda is more expansive — it seeks to overthrow the Pakistani state — and their operations are run by remote control from the tribal belt along the Afghan border.
----------
Until recently, the militants saw Karachi as a kind of rear base, using the city to lie low or seek medical treatment, and limiting their armed activities to criminal fund-raising, like kidnapping and bank robberies.

But for at least six months now, there have been signs that their timidity is disappearing. The Taliban have become a force on the street, aggressively exerting their influence in the ethnic Pashtun quarters of the city.

Taliban tactics are most evident in Manghopir, an impoverished neighborhood of rough, cinder-block houses clustered around marble quarries on the northern edge of the city, where illegal housing settlements spill into the surrounding desert.
--------
The security forces, shaken out of complacency, have begun a number of major anti-Taliban operations. The latest of those occurred on March 23 when hundreds of paramilitary Rangers raided a residential area in Manghopir, near the crocodile shrine, confiscating a cache of more than 50 weapons and rounding up 200 people, 16 of whom were later identified as militants and detained.

“I don’t think the Taliban would like to set Karachi aflame, because they fear the reaction against them,” said Ikram Seghal, a security consultant in Karachi. “The police and intelligence agencies have very good information about them.”

Other factors limit the Pakistani Taliban’s ingress into Karachi. One of the more provocative ones is that allied militants — particularly the Afghan Taliban — might not like the added publicity. The Afghan wing has long used the city as place to rest and resupply. There are longstanding rumors that the movement’s leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, is taking shelter here, and that his leadership council, known as the Quetta Shura, has met in Karachi.

In such a vast and turbulent city, the Taliban may become just another turf-driven gang. But without a determined response from the security forces, experts say, they could also seek to become much more.


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/29/world/asia/taliban-extending-reach-across-pakistan.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Daily Beast Op Ed by former British PM Gordon Brown on TTP attacks against schoolgirls and teacher in Pakistan:

As pupils gathered early on Saturday to receive exam results, grenades were hurled into the Baldia town school in Karachi, causing carnage. Principal Abdur Rasheed died on the spot. The perpetrators are thought to be from TPP, a Taliban terrorist sect, as their campaign of violence against girls education moves from the tribal areas into Pakistan's largest city.

The latest attack follows the murder earlier this week in the Khyber tribal district of Shahnaz Nazli, a 41-year-old teacher gunned down in front of one of her children only 200 meters from the all-girls school where she taught. But this time the wave of terror attacks – orchestrated by opponents of girls' education – is provoking a domestic and international response, a groundswell of public revulsion similar to that which followed the attempted assassination of Malala Yousefvai, who was also shot simply for wanting girls to go to school.

Today, on top of a a petition now circulating on www.educationenvoy.org calling for a cessation of violence against teachers who are defending the right of girls to go to school, a scholarship fund in honor of the slain Shahnaz Nazli is being announced. Education International, the world teachers organization with 30 million members, has said that the scholarship memorial to Shahnaz will support Pakistan teachers and students victimized simply because of their support for girls' schooling.

The petition and the memorial signal a fight back against attempts to ban girls’ education, and come in the wake of the intervention of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who, in a special communique, has spoken out against the shooting of Shahnaz and given his personal support to teachers persecuted for their advocacy of girls’ education.

This week's attacks are, however, a stark reminder to the world of the persistence of threats, intimidation, shootings, arson attacks and sometimes even murder that are the Taliban’s weapons in a war against girls’ opportunity.

Last October, shocked by the attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai and pressured by a petition signed by three million people, the Pakistani government agreed for the first time to legislate compulsory free education and provided stipends for three million children.

Now authorities in Pakistan are under international pressure to deploy their security services to ensure the safety and protection of teachers and girls trying to go to school.

Last October’s demonstrations were a spontaneous response from girls who identified with Malala’s cause as she fought for her life in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Now these girls are being joined by a high-profile campaign by teachers themselves, determined, despite the threat to their lives, to stand up for girls' education and to take their campaign even to the most dangerous of places
--------

But as the forthcoming teachers’ initiative and the the UN Secretary General’s vocal support both demonstrate, the voices in favor of these basic rights for girls cannot any longer be silenced. And because this is a movement that is now being forged at the grassroots by girls demanding their human rights and by teachers organizing in support of them, 2013, which has started with so many violent attacks on girls schools, can still become the year when the cause of universal girls education becomes unstoppable.


http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/03/30/principal-murdered-in-pakistan-latest-assault-on-girls-schooling.html
Riaz Haq said…
Here are some wikileaks US embassy cable excerpts on Karachi gang violence:

...
MQM (Muttahida Quami Movement)
——————————

2. (S) The MQM is an ethnic political party of the Urdu
speaking community (known as \”Mohajirs,\” which is Arabic for
immigrants) that migrated from India at the time of
partition; Mohajirs make up around fifty percent of the total
population in Karachi. MQM is middle-class, avowedly
secular, and anti-extremist (the only party to publicly
protest the recent Swat Nizam-e-Adl regulations). It has a
long history of clashes with the Pakistan People,s Party
(PPP), which controls the Sindh province in which Karachi is
located, and with the Awami National Party (ANP), which
represents MQM,s rival ethnic Pashtuns.

3. (S) MQM\’s armed members, known as \”Good Friends,\” are the
largest non-governmental armed element in the city. The
police estimate MQM has ten thousand active armed members and

as many as twenty-five thousand armed fighters in reserve.

This is compared to the city\’s thirty-three thousand police
officers. The party operates through its 100 Sector
Commanders, who take their orders directly from the party
leader, Altaf Hussain, who lives in exile in the United
Kingdom. The Sector Commanders plan and monitor the...
---------
ANP (Awami National Party – Peoples National Party)
——————————————— ——

6. (S) The ANP represents the ethnic Pashtuns in Karachi.
The local Pashtuns do possess personal weapons, following the
tribal traditions of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP),
and there are indications they have begun to organize formal
armed groups. With the onset of combat operations in the

---

7. (S) If rhetoric of the police and the ANP leadership is to
be believed, these armed elements may be preparing to

challenge MQM control of Karachi. In March, the Karachi

Police Special Branch submitted a report to the Inspector
General of Police in which it mentioned the presence of
\”hard-line\” Pashtuns in the Sohrab Goth neighborhood. Sohrab

Goth is located in the Northeast of the city.
---------
ST (Sunni Tehrik – Sunni Movement)
———————————-

9. (S) ST is a small religious/political group with a
presence in small pockets of Karachi. The group has only
managed to win a handful of council seats in local elections
but militarily it is disproportionably powerful because of
the influx of MQM-H gunmen after the government crack-down on
MQM-H (see above). ST has organized the party and its gunmen
along the lines of MQM by dividing its areas of influence
into sectors and units, with sector and unit commanders. ST
and MQM have allegedly been killing each other\’s leadership
since the April 2006 Nishtar Park bombing that killed most of
ST\’s leadership. ST blames MQM for the attack. There
appears to have been a reduction in these targeted killings
since 2008.

PPP (Pakistan People\’s Party)
—————————–

10. (S) PPP is a political party led by, and centered on the
Bhutto family. The party enjoys significant support in
Karachi, especially among the Sindhi and Baloch populations.
----

Gangs in Lyari: Arshad Pappoo (AP) and Rahman Dakait (RD)
——————————————— ————

11. (S) AP and RD are two traditional criminal gangs that

have been fighting each other since the turn of the century
in the Lyari district of Karachi. Both gangs gave their
political support to PPP in the parliamentary elections. The
gangs got their start with drug trafficking in Lyari and
later included the more serious crimes of kidnapping and
robbery in other parts of Karachi. (Comment: Kidnapping is
such a problem in the city that the Home Secretary once asked
Post for small tracking devices that could be planted under
the skin of upper-class citizens and a satellite to track the
devices if they were kidnapped. End comment.)
---------....


http://tacstrat.com/content/?p=43
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a BBC report on growing Taliban violence in Karachi:

For years there have been fears that the Taliban were gaining ground in Pakistan's commercial capital, the port city of Karachi. There is now evidence that the militants' influence in the city has hit alarming new levels, reports the BBC's Ahmed Wali Mujeeb.

More than 20 people are gathered outside a ramshackle house in a suburb of Karachi - Pakistan's largest city.

They say a plot of land, which was the property of a local businessman, was forcibly occupied by a local mafia last September, and they are here to complain.

The difference now - and a source of much alarm to those in the know - is that this group of Karachi residents are choosing to bring their complaint to the Taliban.

After a two-hour session, the Taliban judge adjourns the hearing to another date and venue which he says will be disclosed shortly before the hearing.

This mobile Taliban court does not limit its interests to this one shanty town on the outskirts of Karachi. It has been arbitrating disputes across many suburbs in the metropolis.

The Taliban largely emerged in poor areas on the fringes of the city, run-down places with little or no infrastructure for health, education and civic amenities.

Their mobile courts have been hearing complaints for quite some time, but in recent months they have also started administering punishments - a sign of their growing clout.

In January, they publicly administered lashes to an alleged thief after recovering stolen goods from him. The goods were returned to the owner who had reported the theft.
Suburban Taliban

But the picture is complicated.

There is a tussle under way between mafia groups (becoming more prolific and powerful in Karachi) who seek to seize land and militant groups who are also grabbing land. This includes the Taliban, for all their willingness to arbitrate in these disputes.

It is clear that they want to tighten their grip in Pakistan's biggest city, its commercial centre. And they appear to have great influence in those suburbs dominated by the Pashtun ethnic group.

These include many of the districts on the edge of the highways and roads leading to neighbouring Balochistan province.

-----------
And when they think their authority is being encroached on, they act with deadly force: The MQM lawmaker Syed Manzar Imam was killed by Taliban gunmen in January in Orangi town, which borders a Pashtun area.

One former leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) - a party of the ethnic Pashtun nationalists - recently left Karachi and said more than 25 of his party offices had been forced to close because of threats from the Taliban.

A senior police officer who does not wish to be named told me simply: "Taliban are swiftly extending their influence.

"There needs to be a strategy to stem the Taliban's rise, otherwise the city will lose other important and central parts to them," he says.
Taliban 'gangs'

Muhammad Usman is a 26-year-old Taliban commander from the Swat valley. He came to Karachi after the Pakistani army started an operation in Swat in 2009.

He says he was first part of a group of Swati Taliban in Karachi and was offered shelter and safety by them.

After some time, he gradually got involved in what...
----------
Karachi's network of violence

Intelligence sources say that there is one Taliban chief for the city, and heads of groups operating in different areas answer to him.

"Though the government has expressed its resolve to eradicate militancy, other state institutions are not co-operating," analyst Professor Tauseed Ahmed Khan says.

He argues that the security forces are losing morale when it comes to the battle against the militant groups and adds that this is not improved when rebels find it easy to get released on bail by the courts.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21343397
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Dawn report about the observations of a Frenchman studying Karachi:

ISLAMABAD, Feb 20: Political violence, ethnic divide and militant organisations being patronised by political parties is turning Karachi into the new Beirut, according to a visiting French political scientist.

Laurent Gayer, a French political scientist, who is writing a book “Karachi: Ordered Disorder and the Struggle for the City,” that will be published by Hurst and Oxford University Press this year, made these observations during a lecture here on Wednesday.
------------
He said though the metropolitan city was facing multiple menaces in the form of lawlessness, targeted killings, sectarian strife for quite some time, de-regularisation of Bhatta mafias within political parties and entry of new competitors in the arena had made the life of the city’s industrial community simply hellish.

Quoting his interviews with some people belonging to the business community of Karachi, Mr Gayer said although they had been paying protection money for the last two decades, coercion for money from more than half a dozen entities had become simply unbearable.

Many of them (businessmen) are planning to shift their business either to Middle Eastern countries or Bangladesh, the researcher quoted them as saying.

In his findings, the researcher also likened Karachi with Mumbai in terms of social leadership, where local political parties had their fully armed militant wings.

But the nature of violence increased with the influx of arms from the Afghan war, he said.

Karachi city at the moment was awash with the most modern weaponry, which political parties across the board were using against each other, said the writer.

According to the French political scientist, violence in Karachi was not existential but instrumental.

Mr Gayer said the proliferation of political armed groups started in 2007, linking it with the involvement of Awami National Party (ANP) and Aman Committees of the PPP.
-------------
“The way how violence is transforming is very difficult for people to handle. Weapons are used indiscriminately in which civilians lose their lives, the last few years saw extremely important transformation of violence,” he remarked.

Karachi’s situation, he said, had become more violent after the involvement of Sunni Tehrik and Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), which besides fighting for its own turf, were also pitched against each other.

The MQM, which was initially more focused against the ANP, was now facing a new challenge in the form of Taliban — found in various pockets of the city, said the writer.

The Taliban, according to the author had been using the city, not only for generation of money through kidnapping for ransom but also for recuperation of its injured and tired members.

Analysing the changing demography of the city, the French political scientist argued that the Sindhi population was increasing and the Urdu speaking community were no more in the majority.

“The pre-violence history of Karachi shows that clustering of Karachi happened after shifting of people from mixed areas but groupings started on the basis of ethnic, linguistic and sectarian basis. Hegemony of MQM is increasingly under threat which it is wrongly trying to project as Talibanisation of the city” he underlined.

During the question-answer session, Mr Gayer said that since the government machinery was directly involved in extortion, killings and other criminal acts, there was absolutely no chance of any improvement in governance of the city in the near future.

Mr Gayer has also collaborated with Mr Christophe Jaffrelot in two books, which include “Armed Militias of South Asia: Fundamentalists, Maoists, and Separatists” and “Muslims in Indian Cities: Trajectories of Marginalisation,” both published by Hurst/Columbia University Press..


http://dawn.com/2013/02/21/karachi-turning-into-a-new-beirut-says-french-political-scientist-2/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's The Economist on gangs of Lyari in Karachi:

CIVILIANS armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s firing at police in armoured personnel carriers are not images associated with the urban hearts of commercial capitals. But Karachi is no ordinary city. Earlier this month its crime-infested quarter of Lyari, a sprawling network of alleyways housing 1m people, saw battles that pitted police against a powerful local gang. In one scene locals flattened a carrier's tyres with gunfire. Then they kept firing at the stationary vehicle, killing an officer inside.

The 31 people who were killed, in addition to five policemen, were mainly innocents caught in the crossfire and included a seven-year-old. For a week residents were besieged. They had little access to food, water or power, as shops shut down and the battle had damaged infrastructure. Then a defeated government called the operation off. The police promised to return after 48 hours, but never showed up again. A senior police official was close to tears when he explained that the gangsters wielded weapons that law-enforcers did not know they possessed.

The Lyari violence highlights the complicated relationship between crime and politics in Karachi. Political parties are organised along ethnic or sectarian lines, and represent the city's Urdu-speakers, Sindhis, Baloch, Pashtuns and Barelvi Sunnis. In turf wars over neighbourhoods, they attack each other's activists and ordinary folk alike. (This week indiscriminate firing on a Sindhi rally killed 11 people.) When deaths exceed a handful a day, the commercial capital grinds to a halt. It is this violence, rather than Islamist extremism, that holds Karachi hostage.

Political parties coexist with criminal gangs, tacitly supporting some and actually controlling others. Lyari's dominant gangsters, the People's Aman Committee (PAC), have traditionally lent their support to the country's ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP). Yet police appear to have launched the Lyari operation because some members of the ruling party had developed a rivalry with elements of the PAC. The rundown district has long been a bastion of the PPP, which had put up with or worked with Lyari gangsters for decades. But its neglect of the area has strengthened the PAC, especially once the gang started providing social services. “This operation was political victimisation,” claims Zafar Baloch, the racket's second-in-command. “The people of Lyari have supported the PPP for 40 years, but when we spoke out against the lack of development here we were targeted.”

Karachi politics plays out at the expense of civilian lives. It did not hurt that the police operation would have pleased the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a coalition partner, at a time when opposition parties are campaigning for the resignation of the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani. The MQM (also involved in extortion in Karachi) complained that the government was targeting its people while letting the PAC get away with crime.

But perhaps what makes the Lyari operation typical of Karachi was how, just as it was escalating into a policing and humanitarian disaster, it suddenly came to a halt. Since then the PAC has not retaliated. Perhaps some unpublicised bargain has been struck. If so, that would be in line with the usual pattern of violence in the city. Karachi manages to hold together because bouts of brutal, though contained, violence are interspersed with dealmaking and calm. Imran Ayub, a journalist on the Karachi beat, thinks the PAC and the government will strike a bargain that preserves the PPP's Lyari constituency despite this disastrous operation. “This was no final showdown”, he says. In the context of Karachi's violence, it is sobering to think what a final showdown would look like.


http://www.economist.com/node/21555930
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Daily Times Op on MQM Ed by Dr. Arif Alvi:

I’m Urdu speaking, my grandparents made a lot of sacrifices and migrated to Karachi, Pakistan, from India.

Karachi was a city of lights until nearly 30 years back when MQM started showing its true face. I will tell you how MQM works and I have experienced all of this myself. This is a very well-managed organisation, which works under a tight command and control mechanism. They have divided Karachi into a number of sectors; each sector is divided into units. The first tier is called the unit. There are MQM units in every nook and corner of Karachi. Every apartment complex has one unit, and nearly one in every 500 houses there is a unit. The units report to a particular sector under which they come. Each unit has a unit in-charge and other proper posts. As these guys live among us, they know each and every house and shop that comes under their supervision. The unit in-charge literally controls whatever goes within the jurisdiction of his unit. From cable persons reporting to him to the SHO of that area; everyone obeys that unit in-charge.

They snatch mobiles, get bhata from shops, get their students cheating in exams, confiscate hides on Eidul Azha and collect fitrana on Eidul Fitar, etc. The collections from units go into millions and collection from Karachi goes into billions. The units report and submit their loot to the sectors. Each unit in-charge has to sit in his sector on a frequent basis from where they get instructions. The sectors report to Nine Zero (90 is the address of the house of Altaf Hussain in Azizabad Karachi); this is the headquarters of the MQM. This is the reason why within minutes they can jam Karachi, as they just need to make one call from 90. The instructions go to sectors where they call units in-charge who have sufficient arms and ammunition. No Karachiite can stand in front of them, as they easily, and without mercy, kill. If they want to threaten someone, they write on their house wall “Jo Qaid ka ghaddaar hai woh mout ka haqdaar hai” (anyone who defies the ‘leader’ is liable to death).

Following in their footsteps, other parties, such as ANP, Aman committee of the PPP and Sunni Tehreek, now are doing the same. Sometime fighting starts over whose units will control the area. Karachi is a goldmine and everyone wants it. The people of Karachi, who are very patriotic, have to live in a constant fear. They cannot even carry a decent cell-phone in this city. They get looted at ATM machines and believe me that the people do not even decorate their houses nowadays during weddings, as they are afraid to come in the eyes of these bandits. Even now and then, there are strikes; children cry during the night due to gunfire, if a call is not for a strike, the call is for “Youm-e-Sog” (day of mourning), which in fact is another name for strike. One cannot imagine what Karachiites have to go through daily. One even gets afraid driving a car when a motorcycle passes nearby. The real disappointment is that everyone knows this, as this is so clear. ....


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C05%5C21%5Cstory_21-5-2013_pg7_18
Riaz Haq said…
Take a look at this video showing Altaf Husain threatening to put a journalist in a "bori" (body bag).

http://www.geotauaisay.com/2013/05/kisi-channel-mein-himmat-hai-k-ye-video-chala-saky/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a CPJ article on risks to journalists in Pakistan:

Among the more 200,000 Pakistanis living in London is Altaf Hussain, leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. This powerful political party is widely thought to be behind the murder of reporter Wali Khan Babar, a rising star at Geo TV who was shot dead in Karachi in 2011. His coverage focused on politically sensitive topics such as extortion, targeted killings, electricity thefts, land-grabbing, and riots.

Police arrested several suspects affiliated with the MQM, but the investigation into Babar's death fell apart when five people connected to the investigation--witnesses and law enforcement officials--were systematically murdered, one by one. The two original prosecutors were threatened and forced to flee the country.

The brutality of the Babar case was highlighted during a discussion in London on Friday of CPJ's special report, Roots of Impunity, which examined the unsolved murders of 23 Pakistani journalists over the past decade. The discussion, at Chatham House, featured the report's author, Elizabeth Rubin, and the Pakistani author and CPJ board member, Ahmed Rashid.

In Pakistan, the fear is such that journalists will not go on the record to speak about the MQM, Rubin said. She described a cycle of violence and impunity where journalists are targeted not only by militants, criminals, and warlords, but also by political, military, and intelligence operatives.

"They are caught in an undeclared war between the U.S. and Pakistan, or between the different factions in the country ... and until that is resolved, they will continue to pay," Rubin said.

Hostilities against journalists are nothing new in Pakistan. Rashid described the journalist imprisonments of past generations as having evolved into the targeted killings of today. At the same time, a traditionally weak civil society has forced the media to take on a primary role in investigating and denouncing social ills and official misdeeds. Journalists "are bribed, cajoled, threatened and ultimately even killed," said Rashid, who noted that the "war on terror" has left Pakistani authorities free to act with impunity against the press.

The root of the problem, Rashid said, is the government's dual policy of allowing the Taliban and other militant groups to operate freely even as they take part in international efforts to stem terrorism. This has given the Pakistani military and intelligence services an unlimited mandate with no accountability.

The issue extends beyond Pakistan's borders. Hussain's speeches from London are broadcast in full throughout Pakistan, Rashid said, who expressed dismay at "the stunning silence of the British government" regarding the MQM's violent activities and its involvement in the killing of Babar.

Rubin and Rashid expressed hope as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shapes a new agenda. The most important steps the government can take, said Rashid, are to reopen the cases of journalists killed with impunity and to make public the undisclosed investigative reports into those killings. One such report involves the killing of Hayatullah Khan, a freelance journalist who was kidnapped and found dead in 2006 after receiving threats from Pakistani security forces, Taliban members, and local tribesmen. The day before his abduction, Khan had photographed the remnants of a U.S. missile believed to have killed a senior Al-Qaeda figure, an image that contradicted Pakistan's official accounts of the killing.....


http://www.cpj.org/blog/2013/06/in-london-echoes-of-pakistans-deadly-press-policie.php
Riaz Haq said…
BBC2 Newsnight documentary on MQM and Altaf Hussain's money launderting and threats of violence against opponents and investigations into Imran Farooq murder

http://youtu.be/ftnjhCbDXwo
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Reuters' story on murder of Karachi gangster Zafar Baloch:

Days before he was killed in a drive-by shooting in Karachi, one of Pakistan's most feared men said he would rather see the city in ruin than give up control over his turf in the country's volatile commercial capital.

Zafar Baloch, a notorious figure wielding enormous power in Karachi, was killed by a group of gunmen on motorbikes overnight in an attack that sent shock waves through the sprawling port city generating a quarter of Pakistan's economy.

In a rare interview on September 5, Baloch, 46, spoke extensively about the psychology of gangland violence, offering a rare glimpse into the dark world of turf wars and extortion in Pakistan's troubled and ethnically diverse second city.

Speaking to Reuters in Lyari, one of Karachi's most dangerous neighborhoods, he said he would not leave his turf despite continuous raids by police and attacks by rival gangs.

"I once had 13 police raids in one day. I have bullet and grenade wounds in my leg," he said. "Thieves run away. I'll never run away from Lyari."

A city of 18 million people, Karachi is home to Pakistan's main port, stock exchange and central bank. And yet it is one of the most violent places in the South Asian nation, torn apart by ethnic, political and sectarian tensions and gangland rivalries.

Explosions and killings occur daily as political and militant groups battle for control with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the city's dominant political party.

Karachi generates 25 percent of Pakistan's economy and presents a major challenge to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as he tries to bring law and order to the chaotic financial hub.

PIECE OF CAKE

In Lyari, a dense network of slums housing over a million people, criminal gangs operate freely, exerting total control over businesses and residents. Police almost never enter the neighborhood without permission from Baloch's men.

Streets are busy, teeming with people and cars. Buildings and lampposts are adorned with posters of Baloch and his allies.

Speaking to Reuters at a local football club, Baloch compared Karachi to a cake which attracted too many takers.

"Right now we are sitting across the table watching the MQM eat the whole cake," Baloch said. "If this goes on, we will either ruin the cake for everyone or get our slice."

A large and burly man, Baloch narrowly survived a grenade attack in 2011 and still had a cast on one leg when Reuters saw him. He walked with a walking cane until the day he was killed.

Lyari's economically strategic location - enclosed on one side by the port and on the other by the city's biggest industrial area - has made it the hub of extortion, violent crime and drug barons.

As many as 1,726 people were killed in Karachi in the first six months of this year, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Mainstream political parties are accused of running armed groups that have carved up the city along ethnic lines into spheres of influence - a charge politicians deny.

Baloch saw the MQM, backed by Karachi's Urdu-speaking community that returned after partition from India, as his main rival.

"The problem is that the MQM thinks it has the biggest stake in Karachi," Baloch told Reuters. "Until the MQM learns to share, there will always be chaos."

And yet he spoke passionately about Karachi, a city where had earned both fear and respect.

"Karachi was born out of Lyari. It comes from right here. The people of Lyari gave birth to this city. How can we let it die?" he said. "Lyari is just a good town with a bad reputation. But its people will never let Karachi die."


http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/19/us-pakistan-karachi-idUSBRE98I0FS20130919
Riaz Haq said…
It will be interesting to note whether PPP-MQM have joined hands out of compulsion or will it really be a new journey, burying the bitter past. It looks difficult but it is the only option for peace in Sindh as well as its economic development. But one still has to wait and see the “written accord” between the two representative parties of Sindh. Both have supported the ongoing “operation” which will continue. Former President Asif Ali Zardari faced internal criticism and pressure when he informed his top leaders about seat adjustment with MQM in the Senate and also about the new accord.

Mr Zardari, who is now tightening his grip on the party after reports that the party’s senior most leader, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, is not happy with some of the decisions he has taken. His absence from the Parliamentary Board’s meetings and not awarding a single ticket on Amin Fahim’s recommendations has raised many questions. Whether these differences are of serious nature or not but the fact remained that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, for all practical purposes, is no longer chairman of the PPP.

Mr. Zardari also knows that there still are strong reservations over this accord within PPP, Sindh, particularly at this crucial time. It is important for him to satisfy his leaders from interior Sindh as well as from Karachi.

Rehman Malik, the man behind the new accord, does not enjoy support in the PPP, Sindh, yet this accord with MQM has added one more seat to the PPP tally, from six to seven in the senate elections, which is crucial as the party will hardly be getting any seat from other three province.Secondly, Mr Zardari also knows that he needs MQM to check the entry of PTI in Sindh.

Thirdly, local bodies elections are also in his mind and that is why he is making new alliances in Sindh. MQM will be getting Karachi and Hyderabad while it will support PPP in interior Sindh.

At the same time Mr Zardari needs to control his ministers and local leaders, as they will be facing tough questions from the media in the “talk shows.” He will be facing some problems in interior Sindh, as he not having the best of terms with his school-time friend, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, these days.

Mirza is also not happy with the arrest of Uzair Baluch in Dubai and his possible extradition to Pakistan. But, his main differences are not with Zardari but with his sister, Faryal Talpur.Sensing the possible dissent in the party, the PPP co-chairman will be making a few important decisions about his relations with Functional Muslim League and smaller groups.

One of the crucial alliances, expected on Friday, will be Jatois joining hands with Zardari, bringing an end to the decades-old political rivalries. It will certainly change the political dynamics of Nawabshah.

It was also not be an easy decision for the MQM and its chief, Altaf Hussain, either. He too is facing problems in his own party and frequent reshuffle in the Rabita Committee is an indicatio

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-35864-PPP-MQM-new-journey-with-ifs-and-buts
Riaz Haq said…
Omar Shahid Hamid started off as a cop, and his decision to become one was deeply personal: When he was still in his teens, his father, a senior civil servant in Pakistan, was assassinated. "In the subsequent police investigation," he tells me via email, "I saw close up the good and bad points of the police in a country like Pakistan, where, due to a lack of institutions, what individuals did, good or bad, had a much greater impact on people's lives, than say, a cop working in London or New York. I joined the police because I felt the potential difference I could make was substantial."

Hamid went on to serve on Karachi's police force for 13 years. He's been on a sabbatical for the past four years, due to threats made against him by the Pakistani Taliban, and he's used those years to pen an exhilarating crime novel, The Prisoner, set in Karachi. Inspired by the real life kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, it centers on an American journalist who's gone missing, and the police and intelligence agencies who are trying desperately to find him as the Americans breathe down their necks.

Hamid's portrayal of the city, the police, and the byzantine political play is nuanced and sophisticated. Karachi is Pakistan's largest and most vibrant city, and he lays it bare as only someone who has lived and worked there could. Hamid says the point of the book was "to portray an image of the police that was realistic. Are they corrupt? Yes often. Are they used as pawns in bigger political games? Absolutely. But despite all of these restrictions and impositions, are they ordinary people who sometimes do extraordinary things? Absolutely."

The Prisoner contains some thinly veiled references to real people and political parties in Pakistan. You go to some lengths to explain their motivations and the moral ambiguities of their world, but you don't exactly flatter them, either. You were attacked on more than one occasion when you were in the police force — and yet you've chosen to write a book that has probably made no one happy. Why did you decide to do it?

It was interesting that when the book came out in Pakistan, the reaction from many people was of amazement. There were people who, despite having lived in the city for years, had no inkling of the world that existed. So overall, the feedback I have received has been one of enlightenment. Many people also said it helped to give them a more nuanced view of the trials and tribulations of ordinary cops and why they sometimes have to do what they do. I decided to write the book because I felt that when I joined the police, the police was a body with so many fascinating stories, but no one to tell them, because the world of the police was very fraternal and tight, so outsiders had no ingress into the kinds of internal stories we possessed, while I, as an insider, had a unique perspective to share those stories with the outside world.

I was particularly intrigued by your protagonist, Constantine D'Souza, who's a Christian. How did you choose him? Christians only make up a tiny percentage in what is an overwhelmingly Muslim country.

I thought making one of the protagonists Christian would be an interesting plot line. In my time in the service, I knew several Christian police officers, and I found it fascinating to think about how they were perceived and how they perceived the culture of the society and the police. The most interesting insight was that Christians in the police did not necessarily come across as an oppressed minority.



http://www.npr.org/2015/03/22/394316033/a-cop-turned-crime-writers-unique-portrait-of-pakistan
Riaz Haq said…
Omar Shahid Hamid, author of The Prisoner, served with Pakistan's Karachi police for 12 years, during which time he was targeted by various terrorist groups and criminal outfits. He received his Masters in Criminal Justice Policy from the London School of Economics, and his Masters in Law from University College London.

When is a work of fiction actually a vivid portrayal of reality? Omar Shahid Hamid, a Karachi police officer, blurs the borders between fact and fiction with “The Prisoner,” a chilling novel about cops and the criminal underworld in the megacity city he serves.
The characters in the book are barely-veiled depictions of real-life people and organizations in one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Mr. Hamid said he chose to write fiction because he couldn’t have gotten away with a work of non-fiction that laid bare the merger of politics, gangsters, jihadists and the police that makes Karachi a city of such corruption and violence.

“Karachi’s institutions have become so weak, including the police, that you have militias taking over different parts of the city,” said Mr. Hamid, a senior anti-terrorism police officer, who has been on sabbatical leave to write the book. “This is what I call the Beirutification of Karachi.”
“The Prisoner” exposes the putrid, bloody, underbelly of Karachi, as only a police officer could know it. Bent cops, greedy, sex-hungry politicians, and criminal syndicates prey upon Karachi’s population in the book in a world so dark that readers will come away terrified.
Anyone who knows Pakistan will recognize groups and characters based on well-known police officers, intelligence operatives, prominent political families, al Qaeda and especially the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which is allegedly connected to the city’s biggest and most established criminal network.
The MQM insists that any of its members involved in criminal activity do not have the support of the party.
Mr. Hamid knows people connected to the group all too well. In the late 1990s, his father, a senior bureaucrat, was assassinated in Karachi, after resisting the MQM. A rough, hard-talking police officer called Chaudhry Aslam came to his house at the time to tell the family that he had caught the killer, a self-confessed member of the MQM.
The young Mr. Hamid knew back then that he wanted to join the police–an unusual career choice for someone educated abroad like him–he even opted for the tough Crime Investigation Department where Mr. Aslam served.
“I saw the ability of the police to act as a transformational body,” says Mr. Hamid. “And I saw how one man can move mountains.”
A character based on Mr. Aslam–who was one of Karachi’s most feared police officers before he was assassinated in an explosion last month–is one of the heroes of the novel. The moral dilemma of tough police officers that have to take the law into their own hands and sometimes even execute criminals is one of the themes of the book.
“I don’t advocate extra-judicial executions,” says Mr. Hamid. “But our courts are unwilling to take responsibility.”
Mr. Hamid’s book was first published in India late last year, an increasingly common route for Pakistani writers. He will be launching the book in Pakistan and speaking at theKarachi Literature Festival which starts Friday.


http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2014/02/07/karachi-cop-novel-exposes-citys-underbelly/



https://books.google.com/books?id=Bll4BwAAQBAJ&pg=PT3&dq=The+Prisoner+Shahid+Hamid&hl=en&sa=X&ei=AxMaVY2aCcWwogSRrYKQAQ&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=The%20Prisoner%20Shahid%20Hamid&f=false
Riaz Haq said…
#MQM, #PPP, other parties extort over Rs. 230 billion in #Karachi every year: DG Rangers. #Pakistan https://shar.es/12wLhC via ShareThis​
A briefing by the DG Rangers told the Sindh Apex Committee meeting that millions of rupees are distributed amongst gang-war factions in Karachi.

According to a press release, DG Rangers Maj Gen Bilal Akbar gave a detailed briefing to the Apex Committee meeting that was held a day earlier, regarding the Karachi situation.

The DG Rangers revealed that over Rs.230 billion is collected illegally in Karachi annually.

The briefing went on to say that this money is used for the purchase of arms and ammunition.

It was also noted that money is coerced out in the form of alms for the same purpose.

The briefing further said that most crime is committed by a large party in Karachi.

The DG Rangers went on to say that a large part of illegal businesses in the city is the distribution system of water which also involved illegal means of making money – in millions of rupees.

The briefing also noted that the money made from sale of sacrificial animal hides is used for funding terrorist activities.

Regarding land grabbing in Karachi, the DG Rangers said that political parties, the City Government, District Administration, and police personnel are all involved in the activity.

He added that the amount made from land-grabbing is used by political and religious parties to operate their armed wings.

He went on to say that there are three types of land-grabbing being carried out in the metropolis including grabbing of government land and property as well as grabbing of private property.

The DG Rangers added that the funds from the mentioned activities are used for gang-warfare amongst factions in Lyari as well as other areas of the city and also distributed amongst some important dignitaries in Sindh.

Illegal marriage halls, unlawful car parking business, match-fixing, and money laundering all play an important role in promoting terrorism in Karachi, the press release stated.

It added that cyber-crime, beggar mafia, and external funding of seminaries also endorse terrorism.

Regarding income sourced from Iranian diesel, the DG Rangers revealed that it is also a major source of funding crime as well as terrorism.

He added that this amount is also used to provide for political groups in Sindh as well as armed groups of land lords.

He further said that a systematic and regular distribution is in place for these amounts to reach certain influential people.
Riaz Haq said…
#BBC reporter @OwenBennettJone on #GeoTV @shahzebkhanzda stands by his story of #MQM funding by #India's #RAW

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2vggjy_owen-bennett-jones-interview-on-mqm-in-aaj-shahzeb-khanzada-ke-saath-25-june-2015_news …

#BBC reporter @OwenBennettJone stands by his story of #MQM funding by #India's #RAW #AltafHussain

http://tribune.com.pk/story/910034/mqm-funding-owen-bennett-jones-stands-by-his-story/ …
Riaz Haq said…
Excerpt of "Transcending divisions: the consolidation of Pakistan" by Benazir Bhutto published in 1996 in Harvard International Review:

Occasionally, the question is raised if national integration has succeeded equally in the province of Sindh. In the past, Sindh often resisted the national government, but this resistance stemmed largely from Sindhis' opposition to military rule from Islamabad. Most recently, Sindh has shown two opposite trends: on the one hand, the PPP swept rural Sindh and brought it into the national mainstream, defusing past sentiment for Sindhi independence. On the other hand, the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) swept urban Sindh in those elections and continues to agitate against the established government. The MQM claims to represent the Muhajirs, those Muslims who immigrated to Pakistan from India since the time of partition in 1947. Arguing that the Muhajirs form a distinct ethnic group in Pakistan that had been denied its share of national economic opportunities, the MQM tragically opted out of the democratic process and resorted to extraconstitutional and violent means to achieve its objectives. It has shattered the peace of Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and one that absorbed much of the immigrant population in the past fifty years, through its compulsively violent tactics and the external assistance provided to it by a foreign power.

The MQM, using a warped version of the ideology of Pakistan, recruited a significant number of malcontents into its clandestine army. The bulk of the Muhajir community, fortunately, kept itself away from this Nazi-style organization and showed a clear preference for democratic dialogue rather than terrorism. This factor has been instrumental in limiting terrorism only to some parts of Karachi. The Pakistan government has taken a two-fold approach to the MQM: it will combat MQM terrorism, and it will at the same time engage in a political dialogue with the MQM and implement vigorous social and economic measures for the uplift of Karachi. The city has grown much too fast for its civic and commercial institutions to keep pace with its expansion, and the government has therefore developed a master plan to redress this situation at every level, from improving mass transit to expanding adequate job opportunities.

The threat posed by MQM terrorism would actually pose only a marginal problem were it not for the unfortunate fact that in South Asia, violent movements fall easy prey to external manipulation. At a time when most countries of the world are engaging in the formation of trading blocs within the parameters of a globalizing economy, South Asia continues to pay a heavy price for the old-fashioned hegemonic ambitions of the largest South Asian state. India's vaulting aspirations to project power in the region and beyond has affected South Asia at several levels. Precious resources needed for social action have been diverted to military expenditure. The region faces the most serious nuclear threat in the world today, aggravated by great advances made by India in missile technology. Above all, not a single state in South Asia has escaped gross interference in its internal affairs. Even the smallest of states, which pose no conceivable threat to their great neighbor, have seen this interference plunge them into long periods of internal turmoil. It is unfortunate that India did not resist the temptation to contribute support to MQM terrorism; at a number of locations in India, scores of MQM activists continue to be transformed into terrorists. South Asia will have a bleak future if such cross-border interference, masterminded by overgrown intelligence services, continues. The political process will resolve the MQM problem in Karachi, and Indian interference will result only in injecting avoidable tension into interstate relations.

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/Harvard-International-Review/30022122.html
Riaz Haq said…
Indian Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju on India's Criminal Organizations
I regard the Congress and the BJP as criminal organizations.
In 1984 that criminal gangster Indira Gandhi, who imposed a fake ' Emergency' in 1975 in India in order to hold on to power after she had been declared guilty of corrupt election practices by the Allahabad High Court, an ' Emergency' in which even the right to life was suspended, and lacs of Indians were falsely imprisoned, was assassinated.
As a reaction,the Congress Party led by Rajiv Gandhi organized a slaughter of thousands of innocent Sikhs, many of whom were burnt alive by pouring petrol or kerosene on them and setting them on fire. When there were protests against this horrendous crime, Rajiv Gandhi said ' jab bada ped girta hai, dharti hil jaati hai' ( when a big tree falls, the earth shakes ). It is believed that he gave oral instructions to the police not to interfere with the massacres for 3 days ( see my blog ' The Sikh riots of 1984 ' on justice.blogspot.in )..
Soon after these horrible massacres, elections to the Lok Sabha was declared, and Congress swept the polls on this emotional wave winning a record 404seats in the 532 seat Lok Sabha, while BJP won only 2 seats.
In 2002 the massacre of Muslims was organized in Gujarat by BJP led by our friend ( see my blog ' All the Perfumes of Arabia ), and the result was that BJP has been regularly winning the Gujarat elections ever since, and has even won the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
So the message which has been sent is loud and clear : organize massacre of some minority in India, and you will sweep the polls. Never mind how much misery you cause to many people.
Are not the Congress and BJP, and even many smaller political parties, which are responsible for horrible deeds and for systematically looting the country of a huge amount of money for decades, and for causing such terrible sufferings and misery to the people, criminal organizations, most of whose members deserve the gallows ?

https://www.facebook.com/justicekatju/posts/961551557218724
Riaz Haq said…
Crime Down in #Karachi, Paramilitary in #Pakistan Shifts Focus to Top Political Parties in Sindh http://nyti.ms/1RErdl5

Paramilitary troops have become ubiquitous around this sprawling Pakistani port city. They watch over police officers at traffic circles, their convoys patrol thoroughfares, their raids drive daily headlines.


After years of crime and militancy that had made Karachi a byword for violence, an extended operation by the paramilitary force — the Sindh Rangers, who are ultimately answerable to the powerful Pakistani military command — has been working. Officials and residents report that crime is notably down across the city.

But in the name of security, the force in recent months has also begun upending the city’s political order. The crackdown has expanded to target two powerful political parties that have long been at odds with the military establishment. And it has left a broad trail of human rights violations — including accusations of extrajudicial killings, in which officers shoot suspects after taking them into unlawful detention, according to rights advocates and members of those parties.

The crackdown, which began two years ago, was initially limited to the slums and outskirts of the city, where Taliban militants and gangsters wielded influence. But this year, the military ordered that the dragnet be thrown wider, especially targeting the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or M.Q.M. The political party has controlled the city for decades through the powerful combination of a large ethnic support base, political acumen and armed gangs.

And in August, the Sindh Rangers arrested and brought charges of financing terrorism against Dr. Asim Hussain, a close aide to former President Asif Ali Zardari, who heads the Pakistan Peoples Party, or P.P.P. Several top leaders of the party, which in addition to its national profile controls the government of surrounding Sindh Province, have left the country, fearing arrest.

“We have dismantled the network of Taliban and criminal gangs of Lyari,” said one senior paramilitary security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the news media. (Lyari is the name of a poor Karachi neighborhood infamous for gang wars.) “Now, it is the turn of militant wings of political parties and those who provided finances to armed groups.”

The leaders of both the parties say they are being targeted for political reasons and accuse the Rangers, and their military masters, of overstepping their mandate and meddling in civilian politics. Interviews with the police and paramilitary officials and political leaders reveal that even among those who support the military, there is a growing sense that the country’s generals have made a concerted decision to wrest Karachi from the M.Q.M.’s control.

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Some analysts believe the politician Imran Khan and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, have the most potential of any group to cut into the M.Q.M.’s influence in Karachi, especially given the widespread image of the party as being acceptable to the military.

But Talat Aslam, a senior editor at The News International in Karachi, said that Mr. Khan’s party, known as P.T.I., had not yet had much electoral success in the city and that at times it had misplayed its hand here.

“Very often, the P.T.I. gives the impression of being a force of outsiders that could arrive out of the blue to ‘liberate’ the captive and enslaved Mohajirs from the M.Q.M., which rules over them by force alone — a description that does not always go down well with the electorate,” Mr. Aslam said.

Political observers say the most likely consequence of the continuing paramilitary crackdown will be that no single political party will now be able to control the city. But for some here, particularly within the business sector, the improvement in overall violence has been worth the political upheaval.

“We do not care about the politicians,” said Atiq Mir, a leader of the local merchants’ community. “Peace is returning to Karachi because of the steps taken by the Rangers.”
Riaz Haq said…
Ex mayor of #Pakistan's richest city #Karachi: #AltafHusain funded by #India #RAW, runs #MQM militants. http://reut.rs/1TSLRlJ via @Reuters

A former mayor of Karachi, Pakistan's largest and richest city, returned home from self-imposed exile on Thursday and launched a new political party to challenge the iron grip of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on the city.

The MQM political party is under pressure from the paramilitary Rangers force, which launched an armed operation in the southern port city late in 2013 to tackle soaring crime rates.

Since then, hundreds of MQM workers have been arrested and a Pakistani court has issued an arrest warrant for party boss Altaf Husain for threatening the army in a television address.

Mustafa Kamal, who won wide support as mayor of Karachi from 2005 to 2010 for his efforts to ease traffic and improve public services, leveled blistering criticism at Husain's strongarm tactics.

"Today we are launching a new political party," a weeping Kamal said at a news conference. "Children have been slain and generations have been destroyed by Altaf Husain. This is my challenge."

Hussain could not immediately be reached for comment. Wanted in his homeland over a murder case, he has been living in self-imposed exile in Britain since 1992.

Kamal left Pakistan in 2013 over reported differences with Husain, and had lived in Dubai since then.

In a tirade that lasted almost two hours, Kamal accused Husain of the murders of party workers, and of delivering speeches and making party policy while drunk. He said Husain personally ran the party's militant wing.

MQM senior leader Saif Ali dismissed Kamal's accusations, adding there was no doubt Husain was the "undisputed leader of the people."

Karachi is home to Pakistan's stock exchange and handles all of the cash-strapped country's shipping. It generates most of Pakistan's tax revenue, and some of its most wanted men.

The Rangers crackdown and Kamal's unprecedented attack have raised questions over who will control Pakistan's financial heart in the future.

Husain is known for his fiery addresses to supporters in Karachi via a loudspeaker linked to a telephone in his London home. His hold on the sprawling and violent city is so strong he is capable of shutting down entire neighborhoods.

In 2010, MQM founding member Imran Farooq was stabbed to death in London. Party insiders say he had major differences with Husain before his death.

Husain is now under investigation in Britain for Farooq’s murder, as well as charges of money-laundering.

Last year, Pakistani officials arrested two men suspected of killing Farooq. Both are affiliated with the MQM.
Riaz Haq said…
49 of world's 50 most violent cities in #Americas plus #CapeTown in #Africa. No #Pakistan cities. http://econ.st/21TcZ3x via @TheEconomist

THE thorny task of comparing crime rates across the world is tricky because legal interpretations vary. Sweden's definition of rape is not the same as America’s, for example. Murder however should be easier to record because there is an identifiable victim, something that can be counted. But the way in which this is done in poorer, often more corrupt countries makes truly comparable statistics hard to pin down. Where there are inefficient public health systems or police, it is even harder. It is in such places that best estimates must be made—Venezuela is a case in point. We recently reported the latest annual ranking of 2015's most violent cities in the world (excluding war zones) by CCSP-JP, a Mexican NGO. The report placed Caracas, Venezuela's capital, at the top of a list of 50 cities (with populations of at least 300,000) with the highest homicide rates.

Crime statistics in Venezuela have not been officially measured since 2009 however, and are underreported according to experts. Where no official figures exist, CCSP-JP is transparent in its methodology: for Caracas it counted bodies from the city morgue (which covers a larger area than the city itself) between January and August, discounted a percentage attributed to accidental deaths, and extrapolated an amount for the full year to get a rate of 120 homicides per 100,000 people. The approach is obviously open to error and several groups have challenged some of CCSP-JP’s findings. One, the IgarapĂ© Institute—a Brazilian think-tank on security and violence—compiles statistics on murder rates in countries and on more than 2,100 cities with populations of 250,000 or more, compared with the CCSP-JP's ‘hundreds’. Their data are only gathered from primary sources such as government, police or vital registration data, and from recognised sources such as the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime. In the above chart we present an alternative ranking which includes IgarapĂ©’s findings using figures no older than 2013.

The broad picture in the rankings is roughly similar, however. Latin American and Caribbean countries suffer disproportionately compared with elsewhere, mainly because of inequality, poor rule of law, impunity and corrupt institutions that are infiltrated by drug cartels. Only two countries outside the region feature on either chart, South Africa and the United States (the list’s only rich-world country). Two US cities*—St Louis and Baltimore—appear on the latest ranking compared with four previously. The good news is that there has been a general decline in violence across the world everywhere except in Latin America. And even within the region, many of the worst cities in Mexico and Colombia are not as bad as they once were. Yet that is cold comfort to the residents of El Salvador, Honduras and Venezuela.
Riaz Haq said…
BBC News - #Pakistani #MQM linked to 'dozens of UK bank accounts' . 70 accounts total, 26 in #AltafHusain's name

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36486970

UK police documents obtained by the BBC list more than 70 London bank accounts related to a Pakistani party being investigated for money-laundering.
Twenty-six are in the name of MQM leader Altaf Hussain. UK-based party officials are waiting to hear if they will face money-laundering charges.
Six British detectives were recently in Pakistan seeking co-operation in the alleged money-laundering case.
The MQM has said Scotland Yard's claims about the bank accounts are baseless.
British police have been investigating the MQM, one of Pakistan's main political parties, for several years but the pace of their investigations has picked up markedly since a meeting in London in April between Pakistan's Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, and Home Secretary Theresa May.
The Scotland Yard documents, which include details of both open and closed bank accounts, were submitted to Pakistan's Federal Investigations Agency (FIA) as part of a British request for assistance.
Scotland Yard has declined to comment on the documents.

The UK's Crown Prosecution Service is already considering whether leading MQM officials should be charged with money-laundering offences but police say that does not stop them making further inquiries.
"The investigation continues and any further relevant information would be discussed with the CPS," said a spokesperson at Scotland Yard.


The British police team in Pakistan was also seeking to advance a separate investigation into the 2010 murder in north London of a senior MQM leader, Imran Farooq.
Three suspects in the case are being held in Pakistan. The UK police want to extradite one of the three - Mohsin Ali Syed - who they claim was present at the scene of the killing.
Pakistan is insisting that either all three should be extradited - or none at all.
The MQM denies any wrongdoing and insists that all the allegations made against it are false.
The British judiciary has been highly critical of the MQM. Back in 2011 a British judge adjudicating an asylum appeal case found that "the MQM has killed over 200 police officers who have stood up against them in Karachi".

During their investigation into the murder of Mr Farooq the police found £167,525.92 (about $235,000) in the MQM's offices in London and a further £289,785.32 in Mr Hussain's home in Edgware, north London.
Previous investigations in London uncovered a list in Mr Hussain's home itemising weapons, including mortars, grenades and bomb-making equipment. The list included prices for the weapons.
The Scotland Yard documents include a number of other British requests for assistance from their Pakistani counterparts.
The British asked for information about cash and weapons found at the MQM's Karachi headquarters. They also asked for official confirmation of Pakistani media reports that the MQM was involved in extortion in Karachi.
Riaz Haq said…
Will #MQM power center shift from #London to #Karachi? #AltafHusain #Pakistan #India http://econ.st/2bkGTiV via @TheEconomist

FOR decades the fleshy features of Altaf Hussain have glowered over Karachi. The leader of the mighty Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) may have fled to London 25 years ago, but his image remains plastered on the streets of the city he controls. But it is becoming harder to find the posters and party flags that once fluttered from every streetlight. Mr Hussain has gradually been losing sway over Pakistan’s largest city to the Rangers, a notionally civilian security force under the control of the army.

In 2013 the government ordered the Rangers to rid Karachi of Islamist militants and criminal gangs. Last year they turned their attention to the MQM, a party successive governments have accused of deep involvement in Karachi’s criminal economy. Although it is ostensibly a relatively liberal and staunchly anti-Islamist political outfit, the authorities claim it runs a shadow organisation of extortionists and kidnappers. As evidence of the party’s unsavoury side, the Rangers point to weapons they discovered when they raided its “Nine Zero” headquarters last year.

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This week Mr Hussain was at it again, with a speech in which he railed against television stations that had denied him coverage. One person was killed and several were injured when angry supporters ransacked the offices of two media companies. In response, the Rangers arrested senior MQM officials and shut Nine Zero. The police lodged a treason case against Mr Hussain, who had described Pakistan as a “cancer” in his speech. The interior minister complained to the British government about the conduct of Mr Hussain, who became a British citizen after fleeing an earlier crackdown on the MQM.

Mr Hussain issued a fulsome apology and said he had been under “immense mental stress”. It was not enough to avoid an unprecedented rebuke from Farooq Sattar, the MQM’s leader in Pakistan. All future decisions will be taken by the party’s leadership in Pakistan, he said, not from London. Mr Hussain appears to be acquiescing to this demotion: he has issued a statement promising to hand over “complete power”.

Sceptics say Mr Hussain will never willingly relinquish his grip. He stepped aside once before, in 1992, only to re-assert himself a few months later. But a comeback will be harder this time. The battering the Rangers have given the party’s heavies has greatly diminished his clout. His regular demands for citywide strikes used to turn Karachi into a ghost town. Shops now stay open, for the most part.

Yet the MQM’s local leadership will not want to cut all ties to Mr Hussain. He is the most charismatic figure in a party increasingly challenged by rivals, including the splinter Pakistan Sarzameen Party, which was set up by a former MQM mayor in March with, many believe, the support of the security services.

The MQM draws its support from the mohajir community—Urdu-speaking Muslims who fled India in 1947 and their descendants. They have remained a dependable vote block despite the many hair-raising claims made about the party, in part because they fear they will lose out to the city’s other ethnic groups, not least the fast-growing Pushtun community. For many mohajirs, the Rangers’ crackdown has only made Mr Hussain more popular. “Altaf is like the head of a family who has been fighting for us for 30 years,” says Mujahid Rasool, a 50-year-old shopkeeper. “Even when the eldest son starts taking more responsibilities, it doesn’t mean he is the family’s guardian.”
Riaz Haq said…
Karachi emerges slowly from decades in the dark

https://www.ft.com/content/c7a9c9fc-4530-11e7-8d27-59b4dd6296b8?mhq5j=e3

The Pakistani city has shown some progress, particularly with regards to security

Arif Habib recently bought a 1,300-acre plot in Karachi that was originally the site of a nationalised steel plant. Among the problems the founder of Arif Habib Corp, the Karachi-based conglomerate, faced was the fact that squatters occupied 250 acres of the property.

These illegal residents had found their way there thanks to the so-called land mafia; gangs of professional land “grabbers”, many of whom came from the restive border region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The main source of income for these gangs is the protection money they receive from such squatters.

Lots of gangs roam Karachi, which is one but hardly the only reason why it is not exactly a normal city. There is virtually no public transport; no metro and hardly any buses. Few tower cranes or skyscrapers dot the skyline. Karachi used to be known as the City of Lights; now, after twilight descends, darkness follows. Once considered more cosmopolitan than Mumbai, today it looks decades behind that Indian metropolis.

There are few beggars, thanks to the Islamic tradition of giving known as zakat. There are also few cinemas and other places of entertainment, a legacy of the days when people did not dare venture out for fear of kidnapping and mugging. Sophisticated residents believe they are hostage to the worst traits of Islam, yet they also benefit from the kindest and most charitable elements.

The problems of Karachi are those of Pakistan writ large. It is ranked as one of the least liveable and most dangerous cities on earth. Not long ago the country was considered close to becoming a failed state. So if the government can indeed restore law and order in Karachi it will be a big step forward both for a nation of more than 200m people and for the region generally.

It is hard to believe that this is a city of as many as 25m people and could even be the largest city on the planet, exceeding Tokyo or Mexico City. The latest census was nearly 20 years ago, which is one reason no accurate statistics exist today. Since then the city has expanded; its population growth swelled equally by new births and by an influx of immigrants and refugees.

“We’ve lost the glory and shine of Karachi, unfortunately,” says Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province, and the brother of prime minister Nawaz Sharif. “The [central] government is committed to restore Karachi’s splendid law and order tradition.”

That law and order is maintained by the Rangers and the Army rather than the local police force, which is widely regarded as both corrupt and weak.

There is still a long way to go however. Karachi remains dysfunctional. “We are ground zero,” says Naheed Memon, chairwoman of the Sindh Board of Investment, Sindh being the province in which Karachi sits. “We can’t even collect our own garbage.”

Instead, it is Chinese companies that have received the contract to do so.

To be sure, progress has been made in eradicating the scourge of the gangs, although they have not entirely gone away. The mix of crime and politics is, sadly, a big feature of life in both Karachi and in the country. The gangs operate in collusion with a number of political parties, their ties reinforced by regional and clan loyalties.

Meanwhile, the state of the property market is symptomatic of the ills that plague Karachi. Much of it is part of the black economy, which bankers calculate is almost as large as the official one.

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