KARACHI, Dec 18: Parties in the coalition government at the centre and in Sindh claim to have been at the receiving end in targeted killings in 2012, the year which saw Karachi experience one of the worst periods in its violent history since the mid-1980s as the city descended into a free-for-all ethnic, political and sectarian warfare with the number of victims rising by almost 50 per cent than 2011.
Violence returned to the city mainly in the second quarter of the year, just months after Karachi started limping back to normality in August last year after the Supreme Court’s suo motu notice of the bloodshed that also ordered the Sindh government to pay compensation to the heirs of violence victims.
The commission set up by the provincial government for that purpose has so far verified 700 families who lost their loved ones in the 2012 killings, a majority of whom were workers of political parties and activists associated with religious groups.
“The verification process of some individuals is still on,” head of the commission retired Justice Zahid Qurban Alvi told reporters at his office on Tuesday. “But the process of 700 requests we received has been completed, which included police verification and other formalities that proved them genuine claimants of the compensation.”
The verified list shows the highest number of the Pakistan People’s Party workers, 170, killed in city violence. The PPP was followed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which lost 150 men in 2012.
The menace of killings on sectarian grounds, which remained at lower side in 2011, escalated in 2012, claiming 100 workers of the Jafria Alliance as verified by the Justice Alvi-headed commission. The Awami National Party lost 97 workers.
The Kutchhi Rabita Committee — a community-based group in Lyari and old city areas — lost 31 workers and the Sunni Tehreek 28. A total of four activists of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement — better known as the MQM-Haqiqi – were killed in targeted attacks.
“We have also recommended compensation for six victims of the Hyderi bomb attacks earlier in individual capacity as the victims were not associated with any party,” said Justice Alvi. “A number of cases of individuals are still pending, which we are verifying and expect to complete the job by the end of the month before sending a summary to the home department.”He said the commission recommended compensation for 476 families, whose members were killed in the 2011 violence and each of them received Rs200,000 from the Sindh government. In a few cases, he said, the legal heirs could not get the compensation cheques due to certain reasons.
“Most of these families were associated with the ANP. ANP leaders told the commission that a majority of the victims’ families moved to their native towns in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after the killing of their loved ones and they remained untraceable,” he said.
He said the commission was not mandated to look into cases of officials of the police and other law-enforcement agencies as their respective institutions had their own system to compensate families of their deceased employees.
“This year we have added some value to the process and apart from the monetary compensation we have recommended free education for at least two children of each victim. Similarly, compensation for people who became disabled in targeted attacks or terrorism activities and free skill development training for at least one member of such a person in a reputed institution has also been recommended,” said Mr Alvi.
Answering a question, Mr Alvi avoided explaining reasons behind fixing the meagre Rs200,000 as compensation to each civilian victim of targeted killing and terrorism compared to Rs2 million offered for each member of the police and other law-enforcement agencies, and said: “You’d better ask this from the government.”
SSP Naeem Sheikh, who was part of the commission, said that during the course of meetings the compensation body also received several requests which were ignored as they were either related to killings on some personal issues or reasons which did not fall under targeted-killing definition.
“Similarly, the commission was also approached by families whose loved ones were killed but facts about their assassination remained suspicious. Requests of families of victims who had criminal records were also not entertained,” he added.