A woman walks through a street during a firefight between the police and gang members.—Reuters Photo

UNREST has reigned in parts of Karachi’s Lyari locality for the past several days as police and protesters have fought pitched battles on its congested streets.

The trouble started last Sunday when a leader of the Kuchhi Rabita Committee, along with several associates, was gunned down; leaders of the banned People’s Amn Committee were nominated in the murder case. Following the killings the police launched an ‘operation’ in the area, though some Lyari residents claim the police’s actions are ‘one-sided’.

There is an element of ethnic rivalry in the feud between the KRC and the Baloch-dominated PAC, while the tussle has a political element as well: the PAC is said to have the backing of some elements of the PPP while the KRC allegedly enjoys the support of the MQM. There is also reported rivalry among supporters of the PPP in Lyari; the area is one of the party’s few political strongholds in Karachi. But perhaps the biggest cause of violence in Lyari — one of Karachi’s oldest localities — is the struggle between different groups for control of the extortion, drug and gambling rackets that thrive in this working-class area.

Law and order in Lyari has been worsening for the last decade. While criminal elements have destroyed its social fabric, the state has also largely neglected the locality.

Even though some civic projects have been carried out over the past few years, a precarious law and order situation renders such gains useless. While action against criminals is needed across Karachi, it must be concentrated on eliminating illegal activities in Lyari.

A complementary plan also needs to be drawn up for the socio-economic uplift of the locality, particularly to ensure that Lyari’s youth don’t fall into the clutches of criminal gangs. The state, particularly the PPP, needs to act now to end Lyari’s perpetual misery.

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Comments (1)

March 25, 2012 2:32 am
Dear all, It's been over 20 years, we left Kalakot Lyari and settled in USA. In those days katchi and Balouch lived very peacefully DRUG was the ONLy issue and many of our friends who we grew up with lost life cause of drugs. This gang issue was not there seems it's got worsen. We lived in poverty in Lyari but stayed focused on education and now we live professional life in the US. I hope people in Lyari don't loose hope and there is always hope for better life, as we got. We managed to leave Lyari as foreign students to USA. We 8 still speak very fluent Balouchi. Education is the key to improve Lyari!
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