IN fragile societies such as ours, ethnic and sectarian issues have the potential to flare up. That is why the state, civil society and community leaders must stay alert and step in to cool tempers and handle a tense situation before it spirals out of control. Two unfortunate incidents in Sindh over the past few days have demonstrated just how fragile communal peace is and how tragedies can be exploited by parochial interests to fan the flames of hatred. Three labourers originally hailing from Bajaur, KP, were gunned down by unknown killers in Larkana on Wednesday. The Larkana killings follow on the heels of the murder of Irshad Ranjhani in Karachi last week. Ranjhani, a city leader of the Jeay Sindh Tehreek, was killed by Abdul Rahim Shah, a UC chairman belonging to the PML-N. Mr Shah has claimed Ranjhani was trying to mug him while police say the deceased had a criminal record. However, a video clip of a bloodied Ranjhani — who was denied immediate medical treatment — has gone viral and fired up passions. As the Sindh chief minister pointed out, some elements are trying to give an ethnic twist to the killing.
Prima facie, the Karachi and Larkana killings appear to be linked, by the fact that they are being exploited by vested interests to stir up ethnic trouble in Sindh. This is unfortunate. For several years, Sindh witnessed ethnic unrest in both its urban and rural parts. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, whose PPP rules Sindh, was quick to condemn the Larkana violence, while the chief minister also slammed the violence. Where the Ranjhani killing is concerned, the law must be allowed to take its course and the case should be investigated impartially to ensure justice is served. The authorities also need to track down those involved in the Larkana killings and punish them accordingly. Above all, the Sindh government and political elements must work to maintain communal harmony and prevent the spread of hateful invective.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2019