Target Killing in Karachi


Uswa Muqaddas Cheema

An exhaustive view to the approach of different religious and racial groups as well as organized wings of political parties either to create harmony or chaos among various sects in Pakistan remained at its peak since its inception. Targeted Killings have always been caused to rise form of violence and contributed a lot towards economic as well as security instability in most of large cities of the Pakistan especially Karachi. Such target killings driven by sectarian, ethnic or terrorist motives are now common and the numbers of victims are at rolling up.

Karachi beside the capital of the Sindh province is the largest city and have been considered an economic capital of the country comprising of multi ethnic, multi lingual and multi cultured with ever expanding and changing demography. The density of this cultural, racial and religious amalgamation has accepted to be a reason for safe heaven for all extremist groups. As per a survey report, an average some 3.6 persons become victims of this extremism in this city every day.

Since 2012, the law enforcing agencies has got arrested a number of accused of target killings who after investigation consistently reporting about the involvement of different political parties, racial and religious groups. On the other hand, the Government even used to indicates the involvement of RAW India but unfortunately they are failed badly to unveil the proof in order to bring peace in Karachi. Certain reports of law enforcing agencies and newspaper articles made speculations about the target killing but no real proof has been found against any party who has been trialed and convicted for this.

Even the blunt actions of the police and other law enforcement agencies are subjected to criticism for their ineffectiveness in locating the perpetrators and investigating their motives and they are made accused of pointing on a specific group.

Beyond any doubt, these targeted killings are not isolated acts but a properly organized and well-coordinated act complied upon the instruction of terrorists or various other groups. According to statistics of the Islamabad-based Centre for Research and Security Studies, more innocent people fall prey to targeted killings as compared to those who die in suicide or other blasts. Since 1994, Karachi alone has lost over 9,500 people to targeted killings, the majority belonging to various political parties, particular sects and sectarian groups. In 2012, 1,784 were killed in 1,324 incidents of targeted killings, a much lesser than numbers of victim of bomb blasts and suicide bombings and the worst year since record began nearly 20 years ago. In recent report prepared by the police, 45 incidents of target killings are recorded in the year 2016, a great drop in compare to previous years.

The strong nexus between the banned sectarian organizations and terrorists is one of the prime reason for the rising trend in sectarian targeted killings which has pushed certain groups towards isolation.

The sou motu actions taken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the operation launched by the Rangers though decreased difficulties of law-enforcement agencies to win the public’s cooperation, but still their faith in police department and the criminal justice system has not been affirmed, and no one, even from affected communities, is prepared to stand witness in court. Resultantly, the law-enforcement agencies are still struggling to cope with the issues to overcome and identify the organized groups behind these incidents as without a proper cooperation of the people it becomes difficult to get circumstantial evidence for investigators to trace the killers.

To compensate the legal representatives of the victims of targeted killings is an obligation of the state. A report reveals that the Government first has determined the victims and about Rs 0.2 million have been given to the heirs of each victim killed in a targeted attack.

In Karachi, targeted killings have been repeatedly attributed to ethnic, religious and political reasons. The land-mafia rivalries have also played a great role to intensify such killings. The main factors to create such killers also include abject poverty, exposure to hate-mongering, Illiteracy and also unemployment. Building the capacity of law-enforcement agencies, technology-led policing and de-weaponisation policy with a systematic cooperation of the people may be the need of the hour to eradicate this ulcer i.e. Targeted Killing from its roots in order to actualize the dream of peace in Karachi.