Total Pageviews

Friday, April 18, 2008

Short-lived reconciliation, discord in city
By By Imtiaz Ali 4/17/2008
KarachiThe tragic events of April 9 have generated a resurgence of concerns about the peace and harmony in the city. The role of rumours and reaction to the treatment meted out to former federal minister in Lahore has been cited as possible explanations behind it. But others say it was the use of street power in an organised way for causes yet to be known.Clearly, there is an erosion of constraints regarding the behaviour of the people — regrettably everywhere in the country — due to host of problems. The latest manifestation of this was witnessed in Multan. One of the possible consequences of the violence in Karachi was the breakdown of dialogue between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) over power-sharing in Sindh. The recent euphoria of reconciliation appeared to be short-lived. It is considered an irony especially at a time when the momentum for reconciliation is gaining strength at national level after the politics of polarisation in the 90s. It seems at its lowest ebb at the provincial level here.The MQM blames the ‘non-serious’ attitude of the PPP for the deadlock, which according to them was visible in the appointment of the ‘controversial’ police chief and the departure of the chief minister from the meeting. However, the latter calls it “minor issues”, which should not become a stumbling block for the larger cause. The subsequent appointment of known characters of the police indicated a ‘competing vision’ for maintaining law and order in the industrial hub of the country.Already both the interior advisor and home minister had indulged themselves in what observers call ‘dangerous utopianism’ by not allowing the burning of even tyres, ending the gang-war in Lyari within two weeks and restoring peace in the city within a month. It is dangerous to rely on the previous options of maintaining peace in the city.Reconciliation with the urban-based organisation has significance far beyond the city in a sense that it will provide a precedent for similar demands in Balochistan and the tribal areas of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). One hopes that the ruling coalition will deal with the MQM’s demands for power-sharing wisely. If the purpose is to bring harmony and reconciliation, it can be achieved by bringing about an improvement in the style of governance. It may not be out of place here to mention that it was the good mayorship of black Americans that brought about a change in attitude among the white Americans to the extent that now, for the first time, a black American is becoming a candidate for presidential elections there.Meanwhile, the launching of an annual report on the state of human rights by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) was a grim reminder of the human rights violations in the country. The group was of the view that deterioration occurred in March 2007 when the president removed the eminent judge in order to secure a new term for himself (ignoring the constitutional bar). This very act, according to the HRCP, deepened the crisis of the state, especially in Karachi. Moreover, it was disconcerting to note that since the imposition of emergency on November 3, not a single case of missing persons has been heard by the Supreme Court so far. The HRCP is also concerned over the killing of a minority factory worker in the city by his colleagues over his alleged blasphemy. It is believed that this kind of vigilantism is result of growing intolerance in the society partly helped by the laws that target the more vulnerable sections. Furthermore, stressing the need for repealing blasphemy laws, it urged the government to hold a judicial inquiry into the murder of the minority member.In a temporary respite from the ugly on-goings, the fifth annual musical festival was held while the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) staged a play ‘Sufaid Khoon’ by Aga Hashr as part of its efforts to revive quality

No comments: