CRUCIALquestion, difficult also, Answer to it may appear easier, but in practice it is not. Altaf Hussain’s tweet, asking Indian Prime Minister Nirender Modi’s help for his Muhajir supporters in Karachi, seems to have created more problems for MQM, claiming to be their sole representative, and also for the migrants from India, who have raised their third generation during the last 70 years.
But before analyzing implications of his social media message, it is only proper to take a dispassionate view of the prevalent situation. The underlying idea is to study whether Karachi operation, completing its second year now, has benefited a city which is economic and financial capital of the country, or whether it has hurt the interests of segments of society, class or groups, inhabiting it.
Even a cursory glance would furnish incontrovertible proof that peace in Karachi has returned to a very great extent (over 80 percent) , and optimism now supersedes all other considerations, or even arguments, howsoever weighty. Karachi, was a lovely, most beautiful city in the region in the 70s, lively, hustling and bustling, crowded from well past afternoon till the wee hours of the morning, Night clubs, social gatherings, cinemas, bars, cafes, coffee houses were the centre of attractions for intellectuals, poets, writers, journalists—debates were on from dusk to almost dawn, drama festivals were on, which reminds us of Agha Hashar Kashmiri’s plays, and like those of’ Mirza Ghalib Bander Road Pe’, ‘ Taleem-i- Balighan’, ‘Lal Qile se Lalukhet’
Lahore has always been the cultural capital of the country, and in fact biggest exponent of and promoter of Urdu, larger than Delhi or Lucknow. That had a history behind. When Delhi, proper name being ‘Dilli’, was uprooted, most poets, writers, intellectuals moved from there to Lahore, but Karachi was no less important, had its own characteristics culture here had its own identity, flourishing in full gear. Fear or fright was unknown. Even dacoities were something alien to this city.
Maximum troublesome thing, was thefts, but any one armed with gun in his home slept comfortably, knowing that thieves will have to think twice before breaking through his or her home, The first shock to Karachi’s peace with the language riots of 1972, and although its cost was considerable, because of efforts from late Mr Bhutto, who was at the helm them, lengthening shadows disappeared with the same spirit and rapidity with which had it exploded.
Despite being a bi-lingual province, comprising , Urdu speaking migrants and native Sindhis, Karachi was peaceful city, progressive in character, film studios were here, and cinema culture attracted audience at such great places acquiring iconic eminence as Palace, Paradise, Rex, Capitol, Naaz and Nishat, where classy movies in English and Urdu, and even from India, did roaring business.
Yet another worth mentioning part of Karachi life was the gardens on both sides of M A Jinnah Road, near Plaza quarters, where members of Parsi community, then in abundance here, and known for their phialanthropy. NED College, Jahangir Kothari Parade in Clifton, and many more historical landmarks, which today are heritage sites, were all their contribution to the progress of this city.
Every seemed disappearing in the melting pot, slowly and gradually, as the 1977 movement against Bhutto for alleged rigging of elections, saw a huge movement, bloody and nauseating, brotherly ties strengthening by inter-racial marriages between Sindhis and Urdu speaking people began evaporating because of extremism fanned by G M Syed and an Urdu Nawabzada, called Muzaffar Ali Khan, Ethic polarization hurt the city so badly, that when late General Ziaul Haq, in his whimsical idiotic style, not only allowed free movement to Afghan refugees, pouring into Pakistan because of the Soviet Union invasion of the neighboring Muslim country, but were garlanded, and patronized. That was the beginning of real dangerous, and turned out to be true, Afghans took over transport from local pathans, and became masters instead of serves.
The demography of Karachi kept changing, and when 250 people were roasted alive in Aligarh colony because of ethnic contempt, the follow up of that the emergence on the scene of ethnic MQM Party under Altaf Hussain. It used rough and tough tactics, and looked more of gangsters than reformers or saviours of a community in trouble, frightened and unsure of itself. Despite all its minus points, it still galvanized migrant supporters, and swept to unprecedented victory in 1978 municipal and 1988 parliamentary polls. Slow and gradually, the party too, deviated from its fundamental principles, and some of its people in power, began money chasers. They did make money too, stashing them in America, London, Panama, Dubai and wherever safe havens could be found.
It had to pay very heavily for that. Altaf, after raising anti-Pakistan slogans on August 22 last year, was disowned. His chapter seems closed for foreseeable future, but the city fragmented, However Rangers, under orders from General Kayani, and then Raheel Sharif, blasted them out. General Pervez Musharraf as army chief tries to condescend them with unlimited funds, and Mustafa Kamal produced magical results.
Karachi had its face uplifted, but the real credit goes to army and Rangers for restoring peace in Karachi, extortion, dacoities, kidnapping for ransom, all gradually became history, although crime situation continues to a headache, but for that untrained, ill-equipped, lethargic police force, thrived on corruption to allow monsters like those who usurped fabulous sums of money between 2002 and 2007, are now almost scot-free. Failure of judicial system is to be blamed.
Now the need of the hour to maintain this peace, and Rangers, although still being blamed for lifting MQM workers, or Lyari gangsters, looks determined to carry out its mission with conviction and determination. Karachi needs peace; regain its lost glory, be the same hub of economic activity, and principal feeder for country’s exchequer. The answer without much ado will be in favour of the question in discussion here.
Karachi does not and need not go back to olden, horrifying days, it has to progress, and be the Paris of Pakistan again. If Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, could have a new look, why Karachi should not be. Rangers have done a marvelous job, but they too should be prudent in their approach to ensure that human rights are not violated. Those arrested should be produced before court of law for justice to be seen to have been done. Peoples’ confidence in any force is a must, and that army and Rangers will have to keep foremost in their strategy. Karachi is on its to recovery and very soon if efforts continued uninterrupted and with political support from all those in the arena, it will achieve that objective. Karachiites will once again be proud of their great city.
During background meetings and interviews, it was obvious to this scribe, that neither army nor anyone in military uniform, or for that even in the larger Punjab also, Urdu speaking people are seen with respect. They are known for their professional positivity and righteousness. They need not worry, that was the sum total of arguments here and purpose of this piece.