Efforts on to allay tensions after days of violence in Sindh

Published July 16, 2022
A police convoy patrols Karachi's Sohrab Goth area on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
A police convoy patrols Karachi's Sohrab Goth area on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

KARACHI: With violence escalating in the wake of the killing of 35-year-old Bilal Kaka, political leaders continued efforts to allay the tensions and appealed to people to beware of conspiracies that aim to sow the seed of disharmony among Sindhis and Pashtuns.

On Friday, the Sindh government announced that another suspect accused of Mr Kaka’s killing was in custody, while 76 people involved in the violence at Karachi’s Sohrab Goth area, as well as forcibly closing businesses in other districts, have also been arrested.

Hyderabad SSP Amjad Sheikh told Dawn that the suspect, Afzal Khan, was the brother of Shah Sawar, the hotel owner who was already in custody.

In a press conference, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon claimed that social media accounts of deceased people were used to circulate hate messages and share videos to further fuel tensions.

Sindh govt asks FIA to move against social media accounts fanning hate; political leaders reiterate calls for calm; another suspect held for Kaka’s murder

He said the federal interior ministry had been asked to take action against those spreading hatred on social media, he said, while warning that such miscreants will be arrested.

The minister alleged that the PTI leaders tried to exploit the situation and spread chaos to further their own vested interests.

“Special Branch has sent photos of people leading the Sohrab Goth sit-in. The same person was [previously] walking around with the flag of Afghanistan and his brother is contesting local bodies elections on a PTI ticket,” he added.

‘Pashtuns playing vital role in Sindh’s economy’

On Friday, Acting Sindh Governor Agha Siraj Durrani met a 19-member delegation from the Pashtun community at the Governor’s House, where the delegates assured him of their complete support for the Sindh government in defusing tensions and maintaining the peace.

Separately, Karachi JI chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman said that ethnic polarisation was being fanned for political point-scoring in the wake of Mr Kaka’s murder.

Addressing a press conference at Idara Noor-e-Haq in Karachi, the JI leader said that some political parties who have lost popular support are attempting to regain the people’s sympathies by exploiting the situation.

Also on Friday, an MQM-Pakistan delegation, led by deputy convener Waseem Akhtar met ANP Sindh president Shahi Syed at Bacha Khan House in Karachi.

Mr Akhtar condemned the Pashtun community’s victimisation in the backdrop of the killing. Calling Sindhis “his brothers”, he urged all sides to amicably resolve their differences.

Sindh United Party (SUP) chairman Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah also appealed to nationalist leaders to avoid provocation and maintain peace in the province.

Addressing a press conference at the Hyderabad Press Club, Mr Shah said Pashtuns living in Sindh were their brothers, but called for the repatriation of illegal immigrants.

Protests over police inaction

Workers of the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz and other activists held a demonstration in Mirpurkhas’ Naokot and Jhuddo town on Friday. Protesters carrying banners and placards demanded the police to immediately arrest all the accused responsible for Mr Kaka’s killing.

Separately, activists from the Awami Tehreek also staged a token hunger strike outside Hyde­r­abad Press Club on Friday against the alleged maltreatment of Sindhi families during protests at several locations in Karachi on Thursday.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also issued a statement expressing concern over the “escalation in ethnic and political tension in Sindh.”

The commission called for a “fair and transparent” investigation into the killing and demanded the Sindh government to control violence. “At the same time, it falls to the authorities as well as to all progressive voices in Pakistan to shun divisive or racist rhetoric,” the statement added.

The HRCP said it intends to conduct a fact-finding mission to ascertain the evidence surrounding the murder and ensuing ethnic tension.

While condemning the murder and subsequent violence that took place in Karachi, on Friday, said some miscreants tried to use the incident to “pit brothers against each other on linguistic basis”.

Qamaruddin in Mirpurkhas, Mohammad Hussain Khan in Hyderabad and Ahmad Fraz Khan in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2022

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