203530 4/22/2009 11:52 09KARACHI138 Consulate Karachi SECRET "VZCZCXRO6005
OO RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHKP #0138/01 1121152
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 221152Z APR 09
FM AMCONSUL KARACHI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1042
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 0499
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0271
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0314
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1861
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 2720
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 4603
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY" "S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 KARACHI 000138
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/22/2019
TAGS: PTER, ASEC, PGOV, PK
SUBJECT: SINDH - THE GANGS OF KARACHI
Classified By: CLASSIFIED BY CONSUL GENERAL STEPHEN FAKAN FOR REASONS 1
.4 b and d.
1. (S) Summary: The police in Karachi are only one of several armed groups in the city, and they are probably not the most numerous or best equipped. Many neighborhoods are considered by the police to be no-go zones in which even the intelligence services have a difficult time operating. Very few of the groups are traditional criminal gangs. Most are associated with a political party, a social movement, or terrorist activity, and their presence in the volatile ethnic mix of the world,s fourth largest city creates enormous political and governance challenges.
MQM (Muttahida Quami Movement)
2. (S) The MQM is an ethnic political party of the Urdu speaking community (known as “Mohajirs,” which is Arabic for immigrants) that migrated from India at the time of partition; Mohajirs make up around fifty percent of the total population in Karachi. MQM is middle-class, avowedly secular, and anti-extremist (the only party to publicly protest the recent Swat Nizam-e-Adl regulations). It has a long history of clashes with the Pakistan People,s Party (PPP), which controls the Sindh province in which Karachi is located, and with the Awami National Party (ANP), which represents MQM,s rival ethnic Pashtuns.
3. (S) MQM's armed members, known as “Good Friends,” are the largest non-governmental armed element in the city. The police estimate MQM has ten thousand active armed members and as many as twenty-five thousand armed fighters in reserve. This is compared to the city's thirty-three thousand police officers. The party operates through its 100 Sector Commanders, who take their orders directly from the party leader, Altaf Hussain, who lives in exile in the United Kingdom. The Sector Commanders plan and monitor the activities of the armed elements. MQM's detractors claim these armed men are involved in extortion, assassination of political rivals, shootings at campaign rallies, and the murder of people from other ethnic communities.
4. (S) Low to middle-ranked police officials acknowledge the extortion and the likely veracity of the other charges. A senior police officer said, in the past eight years alone, MQM was issued over a million arms licenses, mostly for handguns. Post has observed MQM security personnel carrying numerous shoulder-fired weapons, ranging from new European AKMs to crude AK copies, probably produced in local shops. MQM controls the following neighborhoods in Karachi: Gulberg, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Korangi, Landhi, Liaquatabad, Malir, Nazimabad, New Karachi, North Nazimabad, Orangi Town, Saddar and Shah Faisal.
MQM-H (Muhajir Quami Movement-Haqiqi)
5. (S) MQM-H is a small ethnic political party that broke away from the MQM in the mid-1980s. MQM-H has its strongholds in the Landhi, Korangi and Lines Area neighborhoods of the city. The MQM regarded these areas as no-go zones when it was in power during the Musharraf presidency. As a condition for joining the Sindh government in 2003, it asked that MQM-H be eliminated. The local police and Rangers were used to crack down on MQM-H, and its leaders were put behind bars. The rank and file of MQM-H found refuge in a local religious/political party, Sunni Tehrik
(see para 9). The local police believe MQM-H still maintains its armed groups in the areas of Landhi and Korangi, and that the party will re-organize itself once its leadership is released from jail.
ANP (Awami National Party - Peoples National Party)
6. (S) The ANP represents the ethnic Pashtuns in Karachi. The local Pashtuns do possess personal weapons, following the tribal traditions of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and there are indications they have begun to organize formal armed groups. With the onset of combat operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in August 2008, a growing number of Pashtuns fled south to swell the Pashtun ranks of what already is the largest Pashtun city in the world. This has increased tensions between ANP and MQM.
7. (S) If rhetoric of the police and the ANP leadership is to be believed, these armed elements may be preparing to challenge MQM control of Karachi. In March, the Karachi Police Special Branch submitted a report to the Inspector General of Police in which it mentioned the presence of “hard-line” Pashtuns in the Sohrab Goth neighborhood. Sohrab Goth is located in the Northeast of the city.
8. (S) The report said this neighborhood was becoming a no-go area for the police. The report went on to claim the Pashtuns are involved in drug trafficking and gun running and if police wanted to move in the area they had to do so in civilian clothing. A senior member of the Intelligence Bureau in Karachi recently opined that the ANP would not move against MQM until the next elections, but the police report ANP gunmen are already fighting MQM gunmen over protection-racket turf.