SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 10, No. 25, December 26, 2011
Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal
Karachi: Annus Horribilis
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management
On December 12, 2011, the Gadap Town Police in Karachi, the Provincial capital of Sindh, rescued 53 children chained in an underground dungeon at a seminary, the Jamia Masjid Zakaria Kandhelwi Madrassa Arabia, situated in the Afghan Basti in the Sohrab Goth area of Karachi. These children had been chained for 30 days. Unearthing tales of torture, the Police revealed that the chained captives received indoctrination from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) instructors, preparing them to join the outfit’s ‘jihad’ (holy war) on the Afghan front. One of the rescued students stated, “We are being made mujahedeen (holy warriors) here. We are being made Taliban here. They say you should get training… we will send you to fight.” An unnamed Police official told the Press, “The rescued students included kids as young as seven years old and 21 teenagers,” and further revealed that the chained students were beaten and barely fed.
This gory incident is only the tip of the iceberg. There are more than 1,935 seminaries in Sindh, of which 1,800 are in Karachi alone. Crucially, most of the seminaries in Karachi are run by religious political parties that preach sectarianism and extremist Islamism, destabilizing both internal order in the country and regional security.
Karachi, a city of migrants, is, today, a fragmented city. Karachi’s violent landscape has long been scarred by ethnic and sectarian conflicts, in addition to conflicts, and is plagued by extortion and politically motivated crimes as well. The Mohajirs (migrants from India, who came to Karachi during Partition) are supported by the militant Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), while Pashtuns constitute the political elite of the Awami National Party (ANP). A multiplicity of armed radical formations – prominently including, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Sunni Tehreek (ST), and TTP dominate life in Sindh’s capital city.
Significantly, however, out of the 23 Districts in the Province, it is only Karachi which is constantly rocked by acts of ethnic and political violence, including an endless stream of target killings. In fact, all 1,048 terrorism-related fatalities in the Province, recorded by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP, all data till December 25) through 2011, have occurred in Karachi alone. The fatalities included 923 civilians, 60 Security Force (SF) personnel and 65 militants. Fatalities in 2010 stood at 172. The 2011 data includes ‘Targeted Killings’, which many believe are carried out by the terrorists, backed by warring political parties, while SATP data till 2010 excluded this category. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) had recorded 749 fatalities in ‘Targeted Killings’ through 2010, and 490 in the first seven months of 2011.
Some of the major incidents of violence in Karachi through 2011 included:
December 9: Three Rangers were killed while four sustained serious injuries in a blast that occurred near Safura Chowrangi in the Gulistan-e-Jauhar area of Karachi.
September 19: At least eight people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack targeting Senior Superintendent of Police, Crime Investigation Department (CID), Chaudhry Aslam, in the Darakhshan area of Karachi.
August 18: Politically motivated ethnic violence claimed at least 27 lives in Karachi.
August 1: 40 people, including activists of the MQM and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), were killed and several others were injured in various parts of Karachi.
July 8: At least 35 people were killed and several were wounded when unidentified assailants attacked passenger buses and went on shooting sprees in several neighbourhoods in Karachi.
April 21: At least 18 people were killed and 41 sustained injuries in a powerful blast that ripped through Rami Club building near Ghaas Mandi area of Lyari locality in Karachi. Continue reading