National Sections of the L5I:

Karachi: no to sectarian violence

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More than three hundred people were killed in Karachi massacres that started in the first week of July. Another wave of violence erupted at the end of month in what is becoming a regular feature on the Pakistani political landscape.

Even the deployment of the army rangers could not stop the massacres immediately. Numerous buses and shops were set on fire and the houses were attacked with bombs and rockets. It created the atmosphere of fear and hatred.

Why did the clashes erupt?

A new wave of clashes erupted after the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) left the Sindh provincial government over the issue of the Kashmir elections. But in reality the contradictions arise on the re-introduction of the commissioner system and the reinstatement of Karachi and Hyderabad district, which will weaker the MQM's strength in the elections. MQM became much stronger in Karachi and Hyderabad after the introduction of city government system by General Musharraf some years ago.

Now, the changing dynamics in the population in Karachi mean that the Muhajir nationality (Pakistani Muslim who have been forced from India after separation and who speak Urdu as a common language) is not the majority of the Karachi population anymore. The Muhajir, however, are the primary base of MQM. These developments makes the MQM leadership worried, so now they are looking to block this development, which would erode its influence considerably.

The MQM has again started killing so that it can demonstrate its power. Pashtun people were the first target of the MQM. In order to justify its reactionary violence, the MQM claims that the “Taliban” are involve in the recent massacres, but every thinking person knows this to be a lie.

The MQM controlled Karachi for last 24 years and in this time it came into conflict on occasion with the the traditional parties of the establishment and it faced military operations against it. But in the last 12 years it has strengthened its ties with the army and imperialism. MQM is supporting the war on terror and military operations in Pakhtunkhwa (previously known as North-West Frontier Province). And it is a party that has a close relation with international capital in Pakistan.

Whilst the ruling class fears the wild dog of the MQM terror forces, it has also repeatedly uses this dog for its own purpose and is trying to do so now.

Karachi has not only been shaken by reactionary violence, it has also seen the impressive militant struggle of the KESC power station workers. The MQM is prepared and willing to break the movement with force and in the name of the “national” interest. Armed with guns, they forced striking workers to open KSCE centers. They also attack the striking KESC workers physically – demonstrating the semi-fascist character of MQM. In the KSCE members of different nationalities and ethnic groups work and fight together. The attacks are directly aimed to destroy this unity, intimidate the workers and split them along national and sectoral lines.

Organised self-defence needed

The working class needs to unite against the semi-fascist thugs and organise its own defence. We defend the Pashtun and other nationalities against the attacks from the MQM.

But the MQM is not the sole power involved, as the Pashtun traders, contractors and the real estate agents now try to organize in the Awami National Party and rally the Pashtun people – around 3 to 4 million of them living in Karachi - behind it. In the last elections the ANP managed to win two seats in the assembly. On the one side the massacre from the MQM is an attempt to re-assert itself as a sole power. But at the same time, the ANP response is to organise along national lines and on a sectarian basis. Both MQM and the ANP use and exploit the working class for the benefits of the their upper layers in Pakistani society.

In this situation socialist should reveal the character of these murder groups and their politics and oppose racism and the killing of ordinary working class people. We think this is the time the socialist, working class organization should act in coordination, demand the equal right for every citizen of any nationality and should establish the workers self defense committee not only to defend their strike and struggle, but also establish them in their area to defend the community against the racist, fascist and nationalist attacks.