News / Asia

Violence Overwhelms Pakistan's Largest City

Violence Overwhelms Pakistan's Largest City i
X
April 08, 2013 10:54 AM
Targeted killings, bombs, kidnappings and petty crime have become daily events in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and its commercial hub. Sharon Behn reports on how the poor are living in a climate of fear while even security forces are getting gunned down.
Sharon Behn
— Targeted killings, bombs, kidnappings and petty crime have become daily events in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and its commercial hub.  The poor are living in a climate of fear while even security forces are getting gunned down.

Suspected militants threw a grenade at Pakistan's paramilitary Ranger forces in Karachi in early April, killing four.  It was just another attack in what has become Pakistan's most violent city.
 
Roughly 20 million people live here. There are almost daily reports of people killed by hired guns or militants such as the Taliban and Sunni extremists Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
 
Imran Shaukat, the Police Senior Superintendent of East Karachi, says it is a complex situation.
 
"The targeted killing in Karachi is being done by various groups for various reasons," he explained. "There is gang warfare, groups involved in it, there are tentacles of terrorist organizations involved in it, and there is criminal elements involved in it as well."

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, more than 2,200 people died in ethnic, sectarian, and politically linked violence last year.
 
In early March, a large bomb blast in a Shi'ite neighborhood killed 45 people. Militant Sunni Muslims, who consider Shi'ites to be heretics, were believed to be behind the attack.  
 
Imtiaz Raza, a Shi'ite who works in a small street stall, says his family lives in fear.
 
"I am afraid to leave the house. When I leave my area, I am afraid a hit man is following me," he confided. "I'm afraid to go to the market. Something already happened to my family. My father-in-law and two brothers ran shops in the heart of a Sunni area for the last 32, 34 years, and they were killed in broad daylight."
 
Police say they are trying to stop the killings.
 
Imtiaz Gul, head of the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies, agrees with police officer Shaukat that the violence in Karachi is multi-dimensional.
 
"The other dimension, of course, relates to the increasing presence and activism by religio-political parties, who also play host to a number of militant groups including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and many others," he noted. "[And] Because  Karachi is a huge commercial and financial center, it also serves as an ATM for a number of militant groups who are out there challenging the writ of the state."
 
People were too afraid to speak to us on camera about Taliban violence.
 
Police since last August have arrested 191 target killers from different organizations, terrorist outfits as well as petty criminals. But none have been convicted.

"There is a lengthy procedure that we have to follow. We don't have any witness protection program.  Witnesses don't come forward, so we have to find some forensic evidence that connects them with the crime scene. We are working on it, and hopefully we will get them convicted pretty soon."
 
But shopkeeper Raza says, while the wealthy of Karachi have armed guards and ride in armored vehicles, little is done -- even by the police -- to protect poor families like his.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid