Comment: The hush after the carnage
By Sarfaraz Ahmed
KARACHI: All business and trade and most other activities were suspended in Karachi on Saturday, with the city in mourning after Friday’s bombing atrocity in a mosque situated in Karachi’s commercial hub. The ripples of rioting in some areas of the city could have turned into general violence if the city were not closed, and public transport almost absent.
The investigators of this blast have yet to determine whether or not it was a suicide bombing. As usual, the investigators have come out with the unlikely-looking sketch of what is said to be suspect. They issued almost similar sketches after the unprecedented attack on the Rangers’ van in Baloch Colony in March, the killing of five policemen in the Gulistan-e-Jauhar police station in April and the killing of police inspectors Taufiq Zahid inside a mosque last month.
Attacks on mosques or Imambargah by some terrorists cannot be termed acts of sectarian violence or its manifestation. In all such cases, there are some “unknown” terrorists who carry out such activities. The reaction of people from all sects was overwhelming. Together with social welfare agencies, people immediately helped remove the injured to hospitals, manned traffic at intersections and donated blood.
Aftab Sheikh, the adviser on home affairs to Chief Minister Ali Mohammad Maher, termed the incident part of a conspiracy to sabotage Wednesday’s by-elections. “Certain elements and political parties are afraid of the results they foresee, and are trying to escape the polls,” the adviser said.
A leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), he blamed his organisation’s opponents. But if his charge is based on evidence and proof, he should waste no time in taking action against the supposed culprits. His party is in a position to do this, because it happens to be the major partner in the Sindh coalition. Otherwise, what he is saying would come across as being part of MQM politics, with the party trying to get some mileage ahead of the polls.
Friday’s tragedy is a reflection of the government’s complacency on ensuring law and order. The way it has been handling the situation has raised some serious questions about its efficiency. The Sindh cabinet on Saturday took the right decision to order disciplinary action against police officials, because there are reports the police had already been informed about the movement of suspicious men around the mosque.
The government must draw a lesson from people’s immediate reaction to the arrival of police officials at the site of the tragedy. From foot constables to senior officials, policemen was subjected to stoning by enraged crowds. The home adviser himself could have been beaten up at one point.
After relative peace in recent years, there are fears that Karachi is sliding towards the deadly violence of the nineties.