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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs