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Creeping threat: Taliban in Karachi


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The general perception, for a long time, has been that the Pakistani Taliban are nestled away in a remote corner of the country, planning and strategising from their base in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

A recent onslaught of news reports, however, indicates otherwise. The Taliban have slowly been making their way to Karachi, the country’s largest city, and the financial hub of Pakistan.

But the militants are not lying low. On the contrary, it seems as though they’re slowing gaining ground –  if not in the typical fashion, as in during a battle or a war. Rather, Taliban from different areas in the north have become involved in the same racket that many of the local groups are already involved in: land grabbing, extortion, thievery and kidnapping.

This not only adds to the city’s almost-anarchic law and order situation, it also adds to different militant groups’ financial and strategic assets, which is arguably even more worrisome. Moreover, the Taliban are attempting to create their own parallel systems of justice, and what’s worse is, people are listening. The equation is simple: If you don’t find the official law enforcers and courts doing their job efficiently, you turn to anyone who’ll get you your money or your property back, by hook or by crook.

Most worryingly, the law enforcement agencies in Karachi as well as intelligence agencies are well aware of this growing threat. The path chosen to deal with it, however, has been erratic.

This is what the Taliban in Karachi have started doing – imposing their own system of ‘justice’ through the barrel of the gun, creating immense fear in some communities and, ironically, a sense of security in others. In the meanwhile, ANP and MQM have been caught in the crossfire for their ‘secular’ parties, and have been consistently targeted by the militants.

While extensive media coverage of this is recent, the issue has been developing for a long time. Most worryingly, the law enforcement agencies in Karachi as well as intelligence agencies are well aware of this growing threat. The path chosen to deal with it, however, has been erratic.

The police, for one, are often unwilling to have a direct confrontation with a group that’s heavily armed. Another theory is, there’s money to be made keeping the fear in the city alive – and a corrupt police force thrives on this.

Politicians, meanwhile, are keen to emphasise that recent operations, such as the one in Karachi’s Mangophir area, for example, led to the rounding up of dozens of militants.

What, then, can be done to counter this threat? If the police isn’t willing to do the dirty work, who is? Should there be an army operation? Greater intelligence sharing? Crackdowns on hideouts? A massive shakeup in the police force? Will such drastic efforts be worth the possibly violent fallout?

 Another measure could be improving the conviction rate of terrorists, which at this point is close to nil. Why do you think arrested suspected militants are often released almost immediately?

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Comments (43) Closed

AR Apr 01, 2013 12:03pm
The very first step is to rebuild the police department. The very state organ which is manipulated for political gains. Now politicians should forget about protecting their political interests by using police instead they should build this institute to protect themselves and fellow citizens.
ali Apr 01, 2013 01:05pm
taliban are real threat for pakistan and Karachi. Law enforcement agencies should be enpowered to deal with taliban in an effective way
Khanm Apr 01, 2013 01:35pm
revamp the entire nation.... we are bad to the bones....
Cyrus Howell Apr 01, 2013 05:54pm
Rebuilding the police won't happen unless the government can triple their salaries.
HK Apr 01, 2013 06:47pm
Local police is the only way to effectively counterstall these terrorists from getting a foothold in this city.
Shair Khan Apr 01, 2013 09:24pm
We need real leaders not chocolate leaders like Imran Khan who are afraid to speak the truth. Either these leaders support Taliban or they are against it. This is not the time to play politics with number issue in Pakistan. The country is coming apart and political leaders are silent. I think calling them leaders is an oxymoron statement. Nothing can be expected from PTI, PML-N or PPP. They are all cowards. It is all talk and no action.
kulukku baba Apr 02, 2013 02:16am
Taliban is good for the country. What wrong do you all find in them? Let them take over Pakistan and we all can live in peace thereafter. Don't criticize them.
Bbbb Apr 02, 2013 03:08am
Yawar Apr 02, 2013 04:01am
Not Imran Khan again.
Khan Apr 02, 2013 04:19am
Start with ourself let fix our home make sure family members do not lie, does not earn through illegal means, respect your neighbours, keep your vicinity clean hope this is enough for the time being.
sarim Apr 02, 2013 05:35am
this is the preparation of 2014. The NATO equipment will be transported from KPK, touching Khyber Agency, which has already fallen to TTP and now Karachi is also in the grip of Taliban. So, there may be looting of NATO stuff and attacks. God knows what is in the mind of our establishment. For strategic depth, they are going to ruin this country. I see a looming civil war in Karachi and other parts of Pakistan. The arrival of Musharraf is also the part of 2014 plan. The establishment needs to have a president next year, who does their bidding and Zardari is not likely to toe every policy of the establishment. He will double-cross the generals that is why the generals want an excuse general to rule the country as president. I do not think that Mush has come back just to be an MNA.
Khurram Apr 02, 2013 05:41am
Encounter, is the best solution!
Urooj Apr 02, 2013 06:18am
Its realy alarming situation. Those who are at the helm of affairs should deal this menance very carefully.
Naved Apr 02, 2013 08:30am
Taliban can not sevive without their supporters, financers and sympathesizers. Just identify them & do their social boycott. Taliban can not servive without local support. We need to think above our sect and ethnicity to save Pakistan from this menace. Last but not the least law enforcing agencies have to take an all out action against these terrorists. The half hearted actions and lip service will not help in this regard.
Kesar Apr 02, 2013 09:05am
Well said!
Alan Apr 02, 2013 09:34am
hahahaha people like you are responsible for the present condition of Pakistan
Muhammad Farooq Apr 02, 2013 12:01pm
a grand operation comparising of army, rangers and police is needed on a war footing to purge Karachi of talibans and all other mafias operating in the city that have made the lives of citizens miserable and crippled the economy of the country, the sooner, the better! To begin with establish check points to prevent more arms and drugs coming into the city, and as the previous commentator said, identify the supporters and masterminds and put them behind the bar and carry out full blown operation with the help and cooperation of peace loving citizens. We have had enough of ostrich like attitude. Now it is time to roll up the sleeves and do the job. Now or never.
Concerned Apr 02, 2013 12:34pm
Give MQM complete control of Khi for another term and all these threats will go away. You need ppl in govt who have the same priorities as you do. Agreed there might a little more petty crimes but overall it will be much better and exactly wht we need.
Jabran Apr 02, 2013 12:37pm
Yes they did wonders for Afghanistan didn't they? And they work so hard to brainwash little kids to go blow themselves up and kill countless other innocent people. And when they had their own government in Afghanistan they were more interested in public punishment spectacles than doing something for their country. Wild thugs is all they are. You want them running the country? How about you move to the tribal area yourself?
Concerned Apr 02, 2013 12:37pm
not a bad analysis. Mushi could be President again. Which would be a good thing
Jabran Apr 02, 2013 12:40pm
Are you volunteering Shair? If not, how about you support a leader that has not proven to be inept or corrupt. Pakistanis have a bad amnesia problem that seems to get worst every election.
Mohammad Apr 02, 2013 01:21pm
lol ok
Mohammad Apr 02, 2013 01:22pm
We need an Army man like Musharraf..someone who will effectively flush them out !
A Ahmed Apr 02, 2013 02:06pm
I agree with Cyrus. Corruption will not go away from the police dept till they are paid well. But what is the correct amount? Sky is the limit!! and our politicians have enough money but still they r corrupt.. we need Army to come and do masive cleaning.. it will be gruesome in the beginning but we been a revolution ..
Khan Apr 02, 2013 02:59pm
Who said they are not empowered actually Taliban are strategic assets to some of the law enforcement agencies hence half hearted measures
Khan Apr 02, 2013 03:02pm
They are so careful to save their skin that they are outgrown by Taliban
Ashah Apr 02, 2013 04:28pm
Agree But Mush will try to build a collation of people but as far as Karachi is concerned just visited it after my last visit in 2010 even Defense and Clifton have fears now plus filth all over the place can make anyone sick. Now if the Taliban are brought into the equation you will see a Beirut or Somalia like situation The Establishment is afraid to fail so they will not fight or do anything in Karachi, they are are not a capable force anymore most people in Pakistan don't seem to realize this !
Keti Zilgish Apr 02, 2013 05:02pm
The Taliban in Karachi are being supported by Sunni Shop Owners some of whom are migrants from Punjab and hence get along very well with the police and armed forces.
AK Apr 02, 2013 05:37pm
how are they good for Pakistan?
MMS (USA) Apr 02, 2013 06:25pm
Not a Zardari, nor a Musharaf, nor a Shariff, nor a Mengal, nor a Qurashi, nor a Jatoi, nor a Kayani, nor a Choudry, nor a Bughti, nor a Pagaro, nor a Malik, etc,etc,etc can do anything for Pakistan. The only day (I repeat the only day) things will change, is when Pakistan gets a non-corruptable police force. Where all criminals, regardless of white collar, blue collar or black gown, all fear that they are answerable for any form of crime, from a simple mideamor to murder.
Zak Apr 02, 2013 07:31pm
Select police from the city itself like in Karachi police should be from karachites not Punjab or KP similarly Lahore police from Punjab etc. all those coming to work in Karachi must get working permit this will expose the criminal/ Taliban element straight away.
Zak Apr 02, 2013 07:33pm
Hang Taliban caught or black justice by patriotic vigilantes, ' the black unseen hand'.
Khalid Apr 02, 2013 07:41pm
And you find that funny???
Saira Nisar Apr 02, 2013 07:46pm
Believe me, when they decide to unleash the war... atleast people like u will be the first to flee the battlefield
Razzaq Apr 02, 2013 08:22pm
Only Karachiites will have to defend their city from these animals.
munir Apr 02, 2013 09:33pm
Taliban are a curse on any society. All the wrongs you can think of is in them. You think you can get peace with them around, why dont you go and live with them and find out first hand?
Imran Apr 03, 2013 01:52am
The best way is to eliminate corruption,poverty,ignorance and so may lead pakistan to come out from the mess. The more they blame each other the result will be the same as now. Even citizen is tired of this groups who terrorized the loving country once. I dont know where is the pakistan that our founder of pakistan and the people supported him sacrificed everything and yet all of the hard work is almost finished. What will happen when natos and many supported pakistan leave afghanistan will do to pakistan? If karachi is apart then the economic is finish and that is what the crime organization wants it until they get the power. So give it to them and sign the treaty as it reminds me of hazrat imam hasan(r.a) with mauvia, same technique with the people who wants power but at the end they will not find any peace and they will not achieve their goals because the zalim kabhi rotay nahi mazloum par aur mazlum hamaysha rotain hai mazlum par duniya ghawa hai the history of karbala history ....Allah knows best.
Karen Tahir Apr 03, 2013 02:34am
I cannot believe you wrote that? How would you like to live under the Taliban? My family lives in Karachi...I want Pakistan to be a strong independent country. I love Pakistan and if you cared about that country at all you would never write such nonsense.
shan Apr 03, 2013 04:31am
kill them on the spot and hang their bodies,so that they can become a sign of terror for those who support them or cut their throat deal them the way they do things with our soldiers.
Pak Super Power 2030 Apr 03, 2013 05:57am
I think many people have not understood your sarcasm and frustration!
Kashif Apr 03, 2013 08:03am
the current system in Pakistan didnt do any wonders either, lets move out of Pakistan
Gerry D'Cunha Apr 03, 2013 08:21am
talibans main aim is to capture the financial hub of pakistan i.e karachi and then control on the whole of pakistan - they are financially and morally supported by certain vested interest countries (and some forces within the country) who are bend to destroy the image of pakistan - our military establishment should take immediate action before it is too late
sanj Apr 03, 2013 08:53am
you invited and garnished taliban at ur doorstep and now u r in trouble. why blame others for it? other countries like india dont welcome them and their militory dont give them trining and weapons