Continuing bloodshed with increasing frequency and intensity, and unrest in Karachi has been a cause of alarm for every Pakistani for a long time. To focus attention on the pervasiveness of the loss of human life and mayhem in this city SPO has organized the Round Table Forum on ‘Sustainable Development for Sustainable Peace’ in Karachi on 23rd September, 2011.
Speakers in a conference stressed the need of shifting current paradigm of security state, zero tolerance for weapons, dialogue , fair civic governances, respect to diversity are need of the time to achieve Sustainable Development. They were speaking at the Round Table Forum on ‘Sustainable Development for Sustainable Peace’ in Karachi arranged by Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO).
Introducing the theme of forum Naseer Memon, Chief Executive SPO, welcomed the participants. He said the forum on sustainable peace is timely as it is in line with SPO’s program of peace and social harmony. He said, we think Karachi peace is essential for prosperous Pakistan.
Presenting the paper: Karachi’s Violence: Dualities and Negotiations. Mr. Haris Gazdar, said Karachi violence has ethnic and political reasons. Political parties have stable support bases among ethnic groups and localities, and this is not as bad as it might appear. He said, political parties can overcome violence through dialogue. In his detailed paper he elaborated through data that all parties are over performing in elections. He also suggest for economic growth in Pakistan to benefit from Sindh’s resources there will need to be agreements among diverse political constituencies.
Senator Hasil Bazenjo said that violence in Karachi started in 80’s and now it becomes a monster. He said, violence in Karachi has been sponsored, till the end of this sponsorship, violence cannot be curbed. “Violence in politics being faced by the citizens was started by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), which was supported by the State. JI is a baby of General Ziaul Haq that developed the policy of violence in politics as ‘Al-Zulfiqar’ first started the use of Kalashnikovs. Afterwards, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was weaponised by the State institutions as after the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD), the State, thinking that it will lose control in Sindh, patronised MQM and expanded it.” Bizenjo was of the view that unless the State withdraws its support of violent politics, the issue of Karachi cannot be resolved.
Presenting his point of view, Senator Dr. Abdul Malik stated that our main political parties do compromises. In Karachi they have divided the areas. He said through electoral process we will be able to gain peace.
Well-known poet and intellectual Fehmida Riaz opined that alliances can be an answer to the Karachi situation as politics have become ethnic-based. “The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), MQM and Awami National Party (ANP) are on the same page as they do not support religious or sectarian violence or thoughts,” she added. “The State allowed some parties to become armed and it should now stop this game.”
Mr.Jami Chandio said the issue of Karachi should be dealt as a provincial issue and developmental progress should not be focused there while diversity should be respected.“The burden on Karachi can be reduced if other cities are developed as diversity has become unfortunate for the city. The tendency for political hegemonies should be ended. The MQM has made Karachi hostage through violence and wants its monopoly. Following the MQM, other groups have also started working on the same pattern,” he claimed.
Renowned writer Amar Sindhu shared that violence is the result of dictatorships but this situation is more than violence. “This is fascism. We are facing urban and religious fascism and to control this we have to have political dialogues,” she pointed out.
Abrar Qazi said that the establishment and the civil-military bureaucracy are the root-cause of the violence in Sindh. “Political parties are working across Pakistan, but why is the situation different in Karachi and why are other political parties not allowed to work?” he asked.
Journalist Mazhar Abbas termed the current violence as a planned conspiracy to sabotage democracy and political system. “If the Pakistani establishment does not stop violence, peace will not come. After the MRD, the agencies thought that feudal were protesting against the army, that is why they wanted to stop the political process,” he added. “At that time student union elections were not allowed because they wanted to de-politicize the system. The Inter-Services Intelligence has divided the political forces. What is going on in the city now is also a part of de-politicizing the society as Karachi has become ungoverned.” Anchorperson Naseem Zehra was of the view that every person is putting the blame on the establishment but the establishment should not be more important or powerful than the political parties and the parliament. “Despite bad governance, the credit goes to the PPP government for engaging all political forces and introducing a new trend of politics,” she said.
Faisal Subzwari of the MQM said that before 1986, every hand was extended to kill the people of Karachi but it was stopped as terror is not a solution of every issue. “The MQM has supported the electronic voters system. It is not possible that the MQM reverts to the Mohajir Qaumi Movement,” he added. Subzwari hoped to get good response in Punjab with passage of time. He stressed the need for police comprising locals in cities and also accepted that bad people could be present in the MQM.
Former Minister and writer Javed Jabbar on his concluding note said: for sustainable peace security agencies should be impartial, zero tolerance for weapon, fair civic governance, cultural infrastructure, respectful development are nessary . He termed the current ‘Peace is only possible by human development. Ending his speech on optimist note Jabbar urged civil society to involve in peace process.