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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Pakistan's press on Karachi violence
As Karachi struggles to recover from two days of politically fuelled violence which have left dozens dead, several Pakistani papers ask questions over the government's handling of the situation.

Others suggest that the country could be headed towards bigger problems and that martial law or emergency rule could be on the cards.


Paramilitary policeman in Karachi
The police have been criticised for inaction

The weekend's deadly events, which reminded one of Karachi's bloody days in the early 1990S, raise several questions and answers are needed.

Why did the police and the (paramilitary) Rangers fail to take action to prevent the carnage? Who ordered the barricading of the city's main artery and several other roads and for what purpose? Who were the heavily armed groups of armed men wandering about boisterously around the city on that fateful day?

What was achieved by preventing the chief justice's reception at the Sindh High Court bar? Is there any truth in the MQM (governing party in Karachi)'s claim that the opposition is out to destabilise the city as part of a sinister conspiracy?

Do the federal and Sindh governments think that what happened on Saturday was in the interest of the country, especially considering that the centre considers Karachi to be the lynchpin of its claimed economic turnaround and ongoing recovery?


One really wonders what political assessment could have persuaded the elements supportive of the government to spoil the calm of the city and prevent those who wanted to receive Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to proceed to the airport and bring him to the Sindh High Court.

The poor arrangements, or rather lack of them, by the government to maintain law and order in the face of dire warnings by political analysts are incomprehensible. They are, apparently, a reflection of its confusion, rather desperation, at the sight of the milling crowds at (the chief justice's) receptions. After being holed up the whole day at the airport that was surrounded by armed gangs and with 10 of the lawyers, who had accompanied him from Islamabad expelled from the airport by the provincial government, the CJ boarded the return flight in protest.


Everybody had predicted at the end of 2006 that 2007 would be a tough year for President General Pervez Musharraf. When he tried to axe the chief justice, world opinion was shell-shocked. No one thought that the general would relapse to his pre-Kargil commando persona.

However, instead of coming back from behind his cover and sorting out the threatening mullahs of Islamabad, he attacked the chief justice of Pakistan. When the lawyers came out to protest all over the country he was angry and began to plan ways of sorting them out. The contrast was breath-taking.

The protest spiralled after that and became a movement. The cashiering of the chief justice could not be rolled back democratically because the opposition parties supported the judge and politicised the issue. In Lahore he took the pulse of the public reaction and in Karachi he sanctioned brutal action to stop the chief justice in his tracks, leaving more than 40 dead. This is even more irrevocable than the dismissal of the chief justice.

JANG - Karachi

The protection of the life and property of citizens is the responsibility of the state. If such conditions are created where this is not possible, what is the common man supposed to do?

On Saturday, those who witnessed the dance of fire, death, blood and terror on the streets of Karachi will always remember 12 May with a memory of horror and fear. There have been complaints that the security personnel did not perform their roles and did nothing to stop this game of blood. The provincial home minister has said that if the law-enforcing agencies had stepped in there would have been more bloodshed as the assailants would be provoked even more.

It has been reported that when the law-enforcers did arrive at scenes of battles between armed groups, there were so outnumbered and out gunned that they could do nothing. It has also been reported that at many points in the city, the police were without arms.

These facts are in contradiction to government claims that all possible measures had been taken to protect the life and liberty of the citizens.


Karachi is the commercial capital of Pakistan, all the ethnic groups of the country live here, and any trouble in the city sends a shock wave through the entire country. The point at which matters are currently, certain quarters are calling for the imposition of martial law or emergency in the country, which is not out of question. The opposition has called for a nation wide strike and if the situation is not brought under control, the country could be heading up a dead end street.

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