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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Secret Service Head: White House Security Lapse 'Unacceptable'

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid