Karachi: The Return of Yazid
The return of Yazid By Nadeem F. Paracha
Dawn, 28 Dec, 2009
After enjoying a little more than two years of relative peace, Karachi was rudely dragged back on the mutilated map of terror today. A single suicide bomber managed to slip his dynamite strapped body inside a large procession of Shia mourners on Karachi’s M A Jinnah Road and blow himself up, killing and injuring dozens of innocent people, including some security men who were patrolling the fringes of the procession.
The attack has come as a rude shock to the citizens of Karachi and the Sindh province who had been witnessing horrific scenes of similar carnage perpetrated by extremists in the mosques and markets of Punjab and NWFP, and had, for the last couple of years, been somewhat spared from the madness that the terrorists have been displaying in the country, especially ever since 2003. Although the Taliban have yet to claim responsibility for the attack – and given Karachi's history, the attacker may well hail from one of the banned sectarian outfits that have long been established in the city – many believe that there is no longer any point in making distinctions between different extremist groups. Citizens, meanwhile, are concerned that this attack marks the beginning of a wave of violence as witnessed in other parts of the country.
Karachi’s and Sindh’s case in this respect is a tad different where the government is being run by three of Pakistan’s leading ‘secular’ and openly anti-Taliban parties, the PPP, the MQM and the ANP.
Even though these three parties are also allies in the centre, the dynamics of this alliance in Sindh have been a lot more effective in building a consensus against the Taliban, something the federal government and the parliamentarian opposition parties have taken a lot more time and effort to do.
Karachi’s vastly diverse ethnic and sectarian make-up, and the Sufi shrine culture that dominates the rest of Sindh’s social polity have largely managed to repulse forces which, ever since General Ziaul Haq's dictatorship in the 1980s, have been trying to violently impose their brand of Islam in the country. There is however, still some disagreement between the allied parties as to what exactly constitutes ‘Talibanisation,’ especially in Karachi’s case.
So far, only the MQM has directly accused the Taliban for every major terrorist attack that has taken place in the country in the last five years, whereas their allied secular contemporaries, the PPP and the ANP, have largely been vague in their denunciations, usually coupling their condemnation of the Taliban with the now worn-out mantra of a ‘foreign hand.’
But with the unprecedented rise in terrorist attacks in the Frontier province, and with most of these attacks claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP), the ANP too has started to come down hard on directly blaming the Taliban.
And in spite of the fact that only a year ago both the PPP and the ANP in Sindh were downplaying MQM’s warnings of ‘Talibanisation’ taking place in Karachi, today right after the suicide attack in the city, senior ANP leader, Senator Haji Adeel, echoed MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s direct condemnation of the Taliban, also agreeing with Mr Hussain’s plea to boycott those political parties and personalities who are believed to be supporting the Taliban and their intransigent mentality.
To an outsider, and in fact, to many Karachittes as well, the whole idea of certain mainstream political parties and personnel actually mouthing both direct and indirect support for the Taliban is an intriguing phenomenon – especially in these hours of utter carnage and inhumanity being exhibited by the militant sections of extremist thought in the country.
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