KARACHI, July 6: After a weeklong violence that left more than a dozen people dead and many wounded, an uneasy calm prevailed in Lyari on Saturday amid a ‘high-level meeting’ chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari that discussed Karachi’s overall security situation with prime focus on deteriorating peace in the city’s oldest neighbourhood.
No major incident of violence was reported in any part of the town during the day, but the death of a young man in firing that also left his friend wounded late in the evening sparked tension in Kharadar and adjoining areas, where business came to close and transport disappeared from the roads.
“Fortunately, there was not a single firing incident today in most of the strife-hit areas such as Shah Abdul Latif Road, Juna Masjid, Dubai Chowk, Phool Patti Lane, Al Falah Road, Nayaabad and Khadda Market,” said an area resident.
“Most shops resumed their business after more than a week, but there is always a kind of fear that has badly embedded traders and residents.”
A large number of policemen were seen patrolling the streets first time in recent weeks that witnessed gun battles between two groups. The security administration described an intermittent exchange of fire over the past week as a turf war between criminal gangs. The Rangers were also seen performing duties in Lyari on Saturday, but area residents said the paramilitary soldiers were not deployed in the troubled lanes.
“Some 800 policemen are performing duties in Lyari,” said a senior police officer.
“They are backed by a sizeable number of Rangers personnel,” he said.
The officer said the police had not yet initiated any search operation but definitely things were moving fast and action would be taken against criminal gangs.
“The law-enforcement agencies have not set up a single checkpoint in any of the affected areas. In the absence of any checkpoints, they are patrolling the areas in their vans, which is certainly a temporary move,” noted an area resident.
Without any significant action from the law-enforcement agencies and arrest of any known criminal, many residents found the sudden restoration of peace to the neighbourhood strange. They said the mysterious calm indicated that criminal gangs were in a direct contact with influential circles and can stop deadly battle on certain assurance without any action.
However, in Kharadar, tension prevailed soon after the killing of a young man near Jilani Centre in an attack by armed motorcyclists. The area police said that two men riding a motorbike targeted 27-year-old Mohammad Kashif while he was sitting outside a mobile accessories shop near Jilani Centre.
“He was hit by two bullets and he died during treatment at the Civil Hospital Karachi,” said an area police official. The firing also left his friend, Mohammad Siddique, wounded. He was said to be out of danger, the official said.
The firing compelled traders to pull down shutters and vehicles started disappearing from the roads.
The official said police deployment had been enhanced in the affected area but that could not bring life back to the neighbourhood.