The deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi has forced many people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to leave behind their properties, jobs and business and say goodbye to the port city.
They have started seeking alternative sources of income in the province to shift their families to their hometowns for their protection.
“Millions of Pakhtuns, most of them very poor, are crying for help as they cannot move to workplaces, but no one is there to given them a helping hand in the existing dreadful situation,” said Dr Wilayat, who vacated his residence in Karachi and moved to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Dr Wilayat, who belongs to Dir district and works at a government hospital in Karachi, told Dawn by telephone that two years ago he had shifted to his newly built house at Raja Tanveer Colony in Orangi Town but his family was unsafe there and he again returned to Banaras Colony.
“A group of unidentified youths thrice tried to kidnap me when I was on way from office to home but they failed to do so. In such a situation earning money has no importance and the only option left for me was to vacate my house,” he said.
He said that he was seeking job in Peshawar to shift his family from Karachi permanently.
Abdul Wajid, a worker of a private firm of the same area, said that he was living at Banaras Colony but could not go to his workplace and had to purchase everything on debt. “It was not possible for me to live there any longer as my children also could not go to schools,” he added.
He said that he decided to say goodbye to Karachi and shift his family to Peshawar for its protection. He added that two youths in his neighbourhood —one belonged to Swat and the other to Buner —were shot dead when they were on way to home for Iftari but police did not arrest the killers.
“Those, who wear shalwar qamees are shot dead at sight,” he alleged. He said most of the people wanted to return to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but they had no source of income in their villages.
Awami National Party Sindh president Shahi Syed, when contacted, also expressed grave concern over the situation. He said that maximum of the Pakhtuns, who suffered, belonged to Balochistan as they had hotels, restaurants, hardware shops, tea stalls in the localities of the Urdu speaking people.
“People are kidnapped and their drilled bodies stuffed in bags are dumped in open plots or in drains but law enforcement agencies are yet to arrest the killers,” he lamented.
The only demand of people, he said, was restoration of peace, arrest of killers and destruction torture cells wherever they located. He stressed the need for effective and across the board operation and recovery of weapons. In the month of July, he said, over 100 Pakhtuns had been killed.
Many of the cases of killings and injuries had not been registered with police. “About 4,000 Pakhtuns living in localities of Urdu speaking people because of their businesses or jobs have been forced to flee,” Mr Syed added.
He appealed to Pakhtun leaders of different political and religious parties to come forward, sit together and take unified stand for safety of Pakhtuns as all those suffering were not ANP workers but they belonged to different groups.
The ANP leader said that Pakhtuns were auctioning their costly houses and leaving Karachi. It was duty of the government to protect lives and properties of the people, he added.
Jamaat-i-Islami deputy chief Sirajul Haq said that it was not the problem of Pakhtuns only as every community had suffered owing to target killings and the entire responsibility rested with the coalition partners in the government. He said that ANP, MQM and PPP were equally responsible for bloodshed in Karachi.
“Every ruling party has formed its own armed wing for illegal occupation of plots, buildings, collection of extortion and police are not allowed to arrest them,” he said.
He added that police knew about everyone, every torture cell and dumps of weapons in all localities but government was least interested to stop the bloodshed.
He said that army should take action against criminals irrespective of their political affiliations. He said that armed groups had been established just for blackmailing of each others.
Veteran politician Afzal Khan Lala suggested that all the political parties should come together and devise a combined policy to save Karachi. He said that it was duty of all secular and religious parties to realise their responsibilities, feel agonies of each other and take unified stand on the issues of national interests.
He said that Pakhtuns were suffering everywhere but their leaders were divided in groups. He said that Karachi was mini-Pakistan and Pakhtuns had played and were still playing vital role in development of the metropolis and nobody had the right to expel them unlawfully.
Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party provincial general secretary Arbab Mujeebur Rehman, National Party provincial president Mukhtar Bacha and Pakhtuns Awareness Movement president Shahab Khattak also expressed concern over the bloodshed in Karachi.
They suggested that an all parties' conference should take decisions and government should implement the same. They said that Pakhtuns should be given due representation in different departments and their localities should be developed.
They suggested that Pakhtuns Qaumi Jirga having representation of all parties and groups should be convened to find a permanent solution to the problem.