First dimension:
Weak, nay collapsing, state institutions especially the law enforcement machinery and the intelligence apparatus. Over the past decade, induction into the Sindh Police has had three basis-political patronage, cronyism and nepotism. Officers at the DIG level have been inducted from the Income Tax Department, Wapda and even from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA). Each and every one of the some eight-dozen police stations in Karachi has a political appointee. Each and every one of the police stations is allied to one or the other militant wing of a political party.

In its current shape and form the Sindh Police as an operating entity is simply incapable of producing a desired effect. The Sindh Police can neither ensure public safety nor prevent/detect crime. The High Court of Sindh has 18,571 pending cases while the subordinate courts have an additional 144,942 pending cases. On top of that, prosecutors are either incapable or unwilling to prosecute criminal cases on behalf of the state.

The PPP, MQM and ANP know that state institutions are collapsing and cannot protect the life and limb of their proxies. All three have therefore armed themselves to the teeth. In Karachi, just below all the politically motivated violence there is a layer of inter-faith Shia-Sunni violence. Then there’s intra-faith Deobandi-Barelvi violence. Plus, all the criminal gangs, drug mafias, weapon mafias and land mafias. And now the Taliban have also jumped in to further de-legitimise the state.

Imagine; the Sindh Police provides little or no training to its new recruits. Training centres are ill-equipped, under budgeted and some don’t even have classrooms or proper toilet facilities.

Second dimension:
Political exclusion of a large segment of the population. Of the 168 seats in the Sindh Assembly, the ANP has 2, the MQM 50, the NPP 3, the PML(F) 8, the PML(Q) 11 and the PPP 93. Admittedly, ANP does not represent the entire Pashtu-speaking population of Karachi, as MQM does not represent the entire Urdu-speaking population of Karachi but based solely on demographic realties the ANP could have up to 25 seats in the provincial legislature. That is political power way out of sync with group population ratios on the ground.

In Sub Saharan Africa-countries like Niger, Senegal, Burundi and Rwanda – political exclusion of a large segment of the population has been the primary driver of severe internal conflict that stretched out over decades of death and destruction.

Peace-building in Karachi would have to tackle the issue of political exclusion of more than 20 percent of Karachi’s residents. Karachi’s system of governance has long ignored migration and settlement patterns. And, the consequence of that ignorance is now for all of us to see – a serious societal breakdown leading to even more serious conflict.

Third dimension:
Power struggles of the elite. Herein lies the ‘greed theory to conflict’ – Pakistan’s political elite in competition to capture Karachi’s resource rents. To be certain, greed alone does not result in violent conflict but greed, when state institutions are ineffective, becomes a dangerous driver behind violent internal conflict.

Someone wise once said, “One of the weaknesses of our age is our apparent inability to distinguish our need from our greed.”

By Dr Farrukh Saleem


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