Sunday, April 20, 2008

Editorial (Dawn News)

Politics of blood

FEARS abound that once again Karachi may become the backdrop to a theatre of blood and conflict. Even before violence erupted on Wednesday ostensibly triggered by the Sher Afgan episode there had been a sharp rise in targeted murders of political rivals in the city as over two dozen were slain in the month of March. According to law enforcement agencies, political violence flared up shortly after the Feb 18 elections to claim 25 activists of various political affiliations. Political parties such as MQM-H lost six workers, Sunni Tehrik lost four, two victims belonged to Jeay Sindh Mahaz and surprisingly, PPP and MQM, two major political stakeholders in the province did not go unscathed either. Police authorities maintain that this spate of political confrontations is unlikely to subside in the near future. This becomes all the more apparent as representatives of MQM-H dismiss official statistics, asserting that they have ‘received the bodies of 35 party workers since the polls’. The party also lays the blame for the bloodshed on the MQM, which in turn is vehemently refuted by the latter’s leaders. Although the Sindh home department maintains ‘it is more exaggerated than the ground realities’, Karachi’s political environment is becoming eerily reminiscent of the days of MQM’s bloodstained confrontation with the state; a virtual wipe out of a generation of young party faithfuls.

Last week’s climate of ‘brotherhood’ and reconciliation, which is now under serious strain, did little to assuage existing differences in the lower rungs of various political factions. The recent attacks on PML-Q leaders, particularly the incident in the Sindh Assembly, demonstrate that party leaderships have clearly failed to take their workers on board and create a culture of appeasement, or restraint, within their ranks. As party influentials were working out power-sharing formulas to protect their own stakes, they closed their eyes to a deeper malaise that plagues their representatives on the street. As a result, these long festering demons have wreaked much blood-letting. Undeniably, real solutions lie with party leaders who should make peace a priority before entering power deals. Perhaps the inclusion and consent of party workers is a clear route to general accord and until this is achieved, amity in the city will remain a major challenge.

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