This is insane.
Iâ€™m sitting in front of the television, one eye on the screen, the other on my laptop, feeling like a hysterical drama-queen because despite everything that Iâ€™ve grown up with in Karachi across the years, I donâ€™t know if I can handle this. And I feel a bit stupid for being so affected by itâ€”Iâ€™ve seen and lived through worse, and Iâ€™m fortunate enough to live in a part of town that will (most likely) not be affected by what is happening, but I canâ€™t help it.
Karachi seems to have gone completely mental. Dozens of cars on fire. Even more people dead and/or injured. And no one knows why.
There are about a hundred different conspiracy theories flying around about what has prompted this day-long blood-bath in Karachi, but from what Iâ€™ve managed to glean, the basic story goes something like this: the (fired) Chief Justice of Pakistan was supposed to come to Karachi this morning to address his supporters and the MQM, a political party that has historically controlled Karachi since inception decades ago, and is more of a cult than anything else, decided to hold â€œralliesâ€ to counter his speeches. The current opposition parties, held rallies in the city to welcome the ousted CJP, and not to be outdone, the MQM decided to support the government.
How theyâ€™re managing to support the government by gunning down strangers on the streets, setting fire to vehicles, firing at apartment buildings in which defenceless mothers with six-month-old children cower, and threatening to storm private television channelsâ€”well, thatâ€™s beyond me. There are over fifty people deadâ€”I have friends who work in the hospitals where people have been taken; the gunmen have fired on ambulances carrying injured people to the hospital and riddled them with bullets; there are snipers atop apartment buildings and lurking in junctions leading off of Shahrah-e-Faisal, which is effectively a transport artery for Karachi and a route that is almost impossible to avoid using if crossing any significant distance in the city, and all through it, the mother-fucking police are lying on benches taking naps, their shoes off, socks rolled down, moving their cars out of the area, and frog-marching unarmed men into the hands of these violent SOBs, standing there and watching as they beat the shit out of some poor guy with the butts of their rifles, and not doing a damnâ€™ thing to stop it. Iâ€™m actually feeling physically nauseated. And never more so than when I see government spokespeople claiming that thereâ€™s absolutely no issue, nothing going on, no need for the Army or any other authority to step in and curb the violence. The head of the Aaj TV newsroom sounds slightly hysterical as he tells people that he has been asking for some sort of help from every major policing agency in the country for six hours, and hasnâ€™t even received an acknowledgement. The spokesman for the MQM swearsâ€”as in the background, men wave his partyâ€™s flag and fire guns off at the same timeâ€”that if not for his partyâ€™s efforts, the city would be in ruins already, and that blood would be filling the streets.
There are dead bodies lying in the streets, and above them, in a display of jarring incongruity, is a sign stating that 2007 is the year of tourism for Pakistan, and I think that if I donâ€™t laugh Iâ€™m going to cry, because how did this happen to us again? The scenes flashing past me look like images from Beirut or Baghdad, or Sarajevo. People crying, blood everywhere, fire licking at anything even remotely flammable, and no matter where you turn, moustachioed thugs with Kalashnikovs and carbines, firing at anything that moves. And I canâ€™t understand whyâ€”thatâ€™s what freaks me out more than anything else; Iâ€™m used to the violence, I grew up with it in the 1980s, with the bomb drills in school and the mobs outside the gates and the whole nine yards, but I simply cannot understand what sort of twisted game is being played between the government and the political factions that support and/or oppose it. In this short-term move, do they have a fucking CLUE as to how much harm theyâ€™re doing? How quickly theyâ€™re devastating a city that has taken so long to actually start living again? People are scared, and rightfully soâ€”because thereâ€™s no real method or logic to this behaviourâ€”no one knows what to expect.
Sunday has been declared â€œa Black Dayâ€, with all the inappropriate grammar, spelling, and illogic that could be mustered, by people who are most likely affiliated in some way with the people who have perpetrated this travesty of protest. The TV channels keep flashing back to this one particular instant of a man standing up, his hand clasped to his neck, chest dotted with scarlet; and his hand falls, he stumbles, a spray of blood arcing into the air, and he slides to the ground, trembling a few times before he falls completely still.
Musharraf is about to make a speech. If I havenâ€™t thrown something at my TV screen and destroyed it in the meanwhile, Iâ€™ll come back with more later.