3/25/2017 8:36:59 PM
Karachi Occupation Politics By Muqtadah Mansoor
Posted on: 4/16/2015
Karachi Occupation Politics
By Muqtadah Mansoor
Courtesy: Daily Express
16 April 2015
(Translated from Urdu)
Karachi has become a city of over two million masses. But it not only entirely lacks the infrastructure required by a modern city, it has also turned into a "masailistan" (the land of problems) due to the ineptness and myopic mentality of our rulers. Karachi is the economic centre (of Pakistan) with a port, a metropolitan city that never sleeps, yet it appears as an extension of tribal culture.
In the last days of British India, Karachi was a mercantile city with a population of merely 40,000 people whose urban society comprised Hindus, Christians and Parsi communities. The decision to declare Karachi as the capital of the newly created Pakistan led a large wave of migrants (Mohajirs) from India heading to Karachi. This wave included lower to high ranking government officials, businessmen from Maharashtra and Gujarat, as well as small traders and artisans from all parts of Indian urban society. The decision (to settle in Karachi) was not a conspiracy, it was the result of ideological vision that compelled Muslims in India's Hindu-majority provinces to reject the ideas of Muslim legends like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
With the influx of Mohajirs, Karachi's population surged to a million within no time. Those from Maharashtra and Gujarat started the process of industrialization, whereas salaried middle-class set up new towns around the city to expand it further. Because Karachi was the only port city with a vibrant industry in the early few decades of Pakistan, it caused people from all parts of the country to move to this city. And Karachi kept embracing all new entrants. The multi-fold increase in Karachi's population, however, gave rise to numerous political and social issues. With this alarming increase in the city's population, a city that had remained calm and peaceful for decades, suddenly turned restless and chaotic. Instead of realizing problems and challenges faced by the people of Karachi and then trying to come up with a strategy to resolve those issues, the ruling elite decided to crush the masses by using power. This simply resulted in escalating an already widened gulf between the rulers and those being ruled.
Since the creation of Pakistan various illogical decisions by the successive governments have resulted in further complicating the problems of Karachi. In order to understand the problems of this city, it must be borne in mind that the majority of the city’s population comprised urban middle class. A famous intellectual Mr. Danish Hamza Alvi has categorized them into two classes, the salaried class which comprises those whose earnings are based on periodic wages and the artisan class which comprises those who earnings are based on their skills. These urban classes are desirous of a governance system based on modern values and freedom of thought and expression.
However, Pakistan’s social and political system is based on values derived from the tribal and feudal systems. This stark contrast in social and political values is the reason for the wide range of differences that exist between urban Pakistanis and those living in the rest of the country. Although this wide gulf is decreasing due to economic interdependence and socio-political relationship with the passage of time, however, due to the short sightedness and irresponsible behaviour of Pakistan’s ruling classes, on the one hand the gulf of differences between the local population and settlers arriving from other parts of the country kept on increasing and on the other hand the problems of Karachi kept on escalating.
The policies of military dictator General Ayub Khan resulted in further exacerbating the already precarious situation. General Ayub Khan was appointed Minister of Defence while being an army officer by the then bureaucrat turned Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad with a view to consolidating his position in power. Ayub Khan had a rural background and therefore was unaware of the intricacies of urban society and culture. It is was for this reason that he considered the demonstrations and protests in Karachi as conspiracies against the state.
It was during this period that he introduced and later implemented his three-pronged strategy after the imposition of martial law in 1958. The first components of his plan was to shift the capital from Karachi to Islamabad in order to prevent the induction of the local urban community in the non-gazetted government jobs. This was done with a view to decreasing the hold of an urban community in bureaucracy.
He also removed almost 350 gazetted officers from their services. His second component was to facilitate the construction of slums around developed areas of Karachi with a view to enabling their dwellers to participate in protests and demonstrations whenever the occasion arises. It was for this reason that the people affected by Tarbela dam were facilitated in settling in Karachi rather than any other part of Pakistan.
This plan is still being implemented in an organized manner. The third component of his plan was to ensure that the local inhabitants of Sindh do not develop friendly and cordial relationship with the settlers from India rather to create misunderstandings between these two communities. In 1972, riots were managed and engineered in the aftermath of promulgation of the Language Act, which proclaimed Sindhi as the provincial language of Sindh province. With a view to fomenting hatred between indigenous Sindhis, and other communities, a poem written by Raees Amrohvi’s in 1948 was published with malicious intentions. Such measures widened the existing schisms in the society.
Our intellectuals never troubled to ponder that suddenly a city that was the centre of leftist politics fell into the laps of religious parties in 1970 General Elections. None of the section paid attention to the aspect that in the era of 1980s which invisible powers played pivotal role in distancing Sindhi population from the organization that was ideologically established with the blessing and training of intellectuals like Late Saen G M Syed, Late Syed Akhtar Rizvi and Late Ahmed Altaf. Furthermore, no one figured out the hands involved and objectives of the powers behind Hyderabad Massacre on 30th September 1988 and Karachi Massacre on 1st October 1988. These issues are is still an enigma, even today. Similarly, the analysts and concerned citizens have forgotten towering officials who played a central role in sowing seeds of hatred amongst the permanent citizens. The beneficiary of the mistrust between the permanent citizens of Sindh are the forces craving to capture the resources of Sindh.
No one questions the rulers what happened to 72 big fishes against whom the 1992 Military Operation was announced and why all of a sudden the direction of the Operation was diverted to a single party? Once again, a hue and cry is being made and an operation in progress against one party under the rubrics of cleansing the terrorists from the city, whilst, the Supreme Court given verdict of four parties having militant wings, why then, action is not being taken against the others? In September 2013, Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Federal Interior Minister has announced creation of broad-based monitoring committee to oversee the operation in the presence of journalists, but until this day it has not been constituted, but why? The aspect also needs to be garnered that the differences between the permanent citizens of Sindh is serving whose interests.
Karachi is, in fact, one such "golden goose" that everybody wants to grab under one pretext or another. It is sometimes declared "mini Pakistan", whereas attempts are made to rob Sindh province of its fundamental rights by calling Karachi the main artery to the economic body of Pakistan. The ruling elite in Pakistan may not always be on the same page, but when it comes to monopolize Karachi and usurp its fundamental rights, the same ruling elite conveniently finds itself on the same page. It needs to be understood that Karachi is not "mini Pakistan" at any cost but is part of Karachi and the capital city of Sindh province. The right to own Karachi's resources only belongs to people of Sindh. Once this reality is accepted, Karachi issue could easily be resolved.
Islamabad's desire to usurp Karachi's resources and control its politics is the real cause of lawlessness in Karachi. The need for Sindh's permanent citizens to realize conspiracies that are being hatched against them is greater than ever. They will regret the consequences should they fail to open their eyes to these realities and remain divided.
Let me say it again: The intention of the present government is not to establish peace in Karachi at all: it is to usurp Karachi's resources and control its politics from Islamabad.