Politics, Karachi Style

I have a blog post on ForeignPolicy.com’s AfPak Channel on the recent violence in Karachi.

Here’s a snippet:

“The Arabian and Indo-Australian tectonic plates meet near Karachi, the Pakistani port city inhabited by at least 15 million people. But in recent weeks, Karachi has been reeling from violent seismic activity along its ethnic and political fault lines — not the collision of geological plates nearby….”

Click here to read the rest.

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Breaking News: Bomb Blast in Karachi

Earlier this evening, a bomb blast struck Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, in the vicinity of Gul Ahmed Chowrangi in the Quaidabad area. Ten individuals have been killed and over forty injured.

The attack targeted ordinary pedestrians in a fruit and vegetable market area during a peak grocery shopping hour. The bomb blast also occurred in close proximity to the gate of a factory, perhaps that of Gul Ahmed Textiles Mills, Pakistan’s largest home textiles exporter. But it appears as if the attack took place too late to target workers leaving the facility.

There is no real indication that the operation was a suicide mission. Eyewitnesses indicate that the bomb blast occurred near a motorcycle, but conflict as to whether or not an individual was seated on the vehicle. However, Sindh police chief Azher Farooqi tells the BBC that the explosives were hidden underneath a fruit cart.

This area of Karachi has, for many years, been home to violence between various political parties and ethnic groups. Leading officials in both the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamaat-e Islami (JI) issued their immediate condemnations of the attacks on Pakistani television. Later, condemnations were issued by members of other parties in Pakistan, including the PPP, PML-N, and Awami National Party (ANP).

Pathans constitute a large percentage of Quaidabad’s residents. Over an hour later, a third blast was reported elsewhere in Pakistan, targeting the election office of the Awami National Party, which promotes Pathan/Pashtun nationalism. In between the two bombings in Karachi and Peshawar, there was another blast, reportedly at a bakery in an industrial area in Hub, Balochistan–again, during a peak grocery shopping period of the day. It is unclear as to whether they are related. However, if the area in Hub had a strong Pathan labor population, then the common thread linking today’s three explosions could be that they targeted Pathan civilians.

Interestingly, Pervez Musharraf is currently in Karachi–but nowhere near the site of the attacks.

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Arif Rafiq, a Washington, DC-based consultant on Middle East and South Asian political and security issues. [About]

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Arif Rafiq regularly appears on the John Batchelor Show Friday nights from 09:30-10:00pm Eastern Time. Tune your dial to 770AM in New York or 630AM in DC. The show appears on affiliates in other cities. Listen live online at WABCRadio.com.
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