Stories about target killing

“Firing in Saddar! Turn on the TV!”

I live near Saddar, and every single act of violence that affects Saddar affects me too. I was waiting for my mom to come pick me up, obliviously laughing with my friends over some lame joke, unaware of what I was going to go through in the next ten minutes. I was at my school, waiting for my mom to come pick me up – and for a second, I thought I’d lost her forever. A guy came rushing up to us and said: “Firing in Saddar! Turn on the TV!” Normally, being a helpless Karachiite, I would have watched the news and ...

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Karachi, my city of violence

Two nights ago, I heard sounds of blaring ambulances as I entered my house. The next day while I was on my way to work, my brother called me and told  me to turn back because the situation in the city might get ‘Orangi-ised’ by evening. The ambulances I heard had been carrying the bodies of two men shot at Johar Chorangi, just half a kilometer from my house. For once, I thought it wise to listen to my brother, and went back home. While I stayed at home I was only too aware that innocent people were dying and many ...

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‘Strike tomorrow, school’s closed!’

How many countries have more unofficial (read: unnecessary) holidays than official ones? Now that 2011 has been announced as Pakistan’s year of education, we might want to start focusing less on who killed whom and more on keeping our schools open. My high school years in Karachi were a blur of classes, canteen breaks, throwball, netball, and bonfires. Sounds like fun, I know. But it would have been a whole lot more productive had it not been interrupted by school closures thanks to random strikes and curfews. As a young’un, who really cares? After all, no school is usually good ...

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Karachi in the grips of extortionists, terrorists

Earlier this month Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza entered the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) building for a media briefing where a businessman handed him a ‘parchi’  from extortionists and asked the minister to take action against the people who had been threatening him if they didn’t pay the required sum. The ‘parchi’ practice Being a part of the business community in Karachi for several decades, I can confirm that the parchi system is normal practice in Karachi. Political parties, gangsters, ‘community associations’ and representatives of so-called philanthropic and religious organisations pay regular visits to business units around the city ...

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When reporting falls short

Sometimes I wonder whether reporting an incident and having it published is enough. I began to ask myself that a lot more when recently I went to investigate a target killing case in a neighbourhood of Karachi. The story is of an 18-year-old girl, whose father was killed by unidentified gunmen with a single shot to his head one evening as he was returning home from work. He had no political or religious party leanings. He was just an average middle-class widower, who happened to live in a troubled neighbourhood and was making an honest living for his small family. As I ...

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Times are tough, but we are tougher

We are living in turbulent times where only an excuse is needed to start a killing spree. Be it in the name of religion, national security or revenge. Pakistanis have never felt less secure than they do at present, because anything can happen at any time which can affect their welfare. The terrorists blow themselves up at whim whenever they deem fit with only one ultimate aim to have as many casualties as possible. There is terror and bloodshed at every turn, be it at our own hands or at the hands of external forces. Although no one doubts that ...

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Desensitised in Karachi’s killing fields

Karachi is seeing red again as the city is gripped by target killings and “cannibalism”. Yes, I know the latter isn’t an appropriate word, but has anyone got a better way to describe what is happening in the city? The death toll of the three days’ ongoing target killings in Karachi has climbed to 55 on Tuesday with 15 killings in last 24 hours in various parts of the city. And that is not counting the very latest figures of the 12 victims who died in Sher shah. The police and Rangers claimed to have apprehended more than 80 persons allegedly ...

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What we don’t know will hurt us

An overzealous media sniffing a tectonic shift in Islamabad, readied itself in obvious enthusiasm to cover the news of the expected ‘change’. Unsurprisingly, nothing happened. The troika resolved to protect the current dispensation…the self-proclaimed defenders of what they choose to call ‘democracy’, while the reality of Pakistan is closer to that of a kleptocracy. If we were in a democratic polity, decisions that alter the destiny of nations wouldn’t be made behind closed doors, through inoculators, with gentle nudging and helpful prodding of US and Saudi diplomats. We have a President who in dubious circumstances inherited the leadership of his slain wife’s ...

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Karachi doesn’t need Rangers!

Increasing the powers of the para-military troops to police Karachi is supposed to help control the law and order situation. But has it? Ever since 1993, when the Rangers became a visible force in the city, what have they really achieved? Political forces have awarded Rangers funds and powers which seem to allow then to get away with committing crimes instead of preventing them. Many in the city believe that Rangers go unpunished because of their position. They are superior in rank to the Police and just below that of the Army. But in Karachi, they are supposed to be ...

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Taming the untamable

It is going to take a lot more than a ‘code of conduct’ to make sure the target killings in Karachi stop. As vanguards of democracy, claiming to stand for the rights of their ‘own’ people, the political parties in the city have left little doubt that there are, directly or indirectly, responsible for most of the violence in the city. No one named who was behind the violence that erupted in the city last week yet somehow Rehman Malik knew who he had to call to the meeting to make sure the killings stop. And they did. The minute the ...

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