ABSTRACT # 1

WORKSHOP ON THE CHALLENGE OF CONFLICT PREVENTION IN PAKISTAN: A CASE STUDY OF KARACHI
ORGANIZED BY THE PROGRAM ON PEACE STUDIES AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION, DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF KARACHI IN COLLABORATION WITH THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR THE PREVENTION OF ARMED CONFLICTS
DECEMBER 23, 2014

THE DYNAMICS OF CONFLICT PREVENTION:  CONCEPTS AND APPROACHES
BY MARIA SAIFUDDIN EFFENDI*

 

Conflict is both a natural and artificial (man-made) phenomena. If not dealt properly, it destroys entire nation, changes geographical map of the region and in extreme cases, wipes away the existence of conflict actors. With its multi-level processes and political, military, economic and socio-cultural basis, it can be termed as socio-political illness. It has to be treated in different ways at various stages. Conflict Prevention is one of the approaches in the broader conflict management process to cure the issue at its earliest stage.
Conflict prevention applies to peaceful situations where substantial physical violence is possible, based on typical indicators of rising hostilities. Everyday spates where no blood is spilled or public controversies that get so rancorous that social groups stop communicating are socially unhealthy, but much less grievous than states or groups about to kill each other with deadly weapons. A coup d’etat is less grave than the genocide of hundreds of thousands of people.
According to available literature on the subject, there are two preliminary timings to intervene in the conflict through preventive measures. These two primary approaches to prevent a conflict are Pro-active conflict prevention and Reactive conflict prevention. While proactive deals with the very latent or initial stage of the conflict, reactive approach intervenes when the conflict is in its escalation phase and expandable to proximate geographical areas, more brutal tactics and outbreak of uncontrollable violence.
The paper dwells upon conceptual underpinnings of Conflict Prevention as a mechanism under broader conflict management process, approaches and techniques. It is going to examine the dynamics, risks and challenges of the approaches to deal with a variety of types of inter and intra-state conflicts and may add the contextual aspect of conflict prevention to generate debate on the subject at academic level in Pakistan.

* Assistant Professor, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, National Defense University, Islamabad.


Michael Lund, Conflict Prevention: Theory in Pursuit of Policy and Practice, The Sage Handbook of Conflict Resolution, p. 288, at http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/Conflict%20Prevention-%20Theory%20in%20Pursuit%20of%20Policy%20and%20Practice.pdf

 

ABSTRACT # 2

WORKSHOP ON THE CHALLENGE OF CONFLICT PREVENTION IN PAKISTAN: A CASE STUDY OF KARACHI
ORGANIZED BY THE PROGRAM ON PEACE STUDIES AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION, DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF KARACHI IN COLLABORATION WITH THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR THE PREVENTION OF ARMED CONFLICTS
DECEMBER 23, 2014

 

THE RELEVANCE OF MULTI-STAKEHOLDER APPROACH IN CONFLICT PREVENTION
BY DR. MOONIS AHMAR*

 

No conflict can be prevented, managed, positively transformed or resolved without the involvement of different stakeholders. Whether it is inter or intra-state conflicts, one needs to take on board those actors whose role for the escalation, management or resolution of conflict is evident, crucial and critical.
Multi-stakeholder approach (MSHA) means a technique to understand the dynamics of conflicts and ensure proper resolution by unleashing the process of consultation and negotiations with multiple actors having stakes in a particular conflict. Global Platform for the Prevention of Armed Conflicts (GPPAC) a Dutch based organization played a pioneering role in devising and formulating multi-stakeholder approach for the prevention of armed conflicts. No conflict can be prevented single handedly because of its multi-dimensional nature. For instance, armed conflict in Nepal could have been prevented had the then Nepali government pursued the policy of taking on board those groups and parties who were directly involved the process which triggered the outbreak of armed conflict against monarchy in 1996. Same is true in case of armed conflict which plagued Sri Lanka for years and resulted into the military defeat of Liberation Tamil Tigers Ealem (LTTE) in May 2009.
This paper will examine the relevance of multi-stakeholder approach in conflict prevention by responding to the following questions:

1.  What is meant by multi-stakeholder approach and what are its major requirements?
2.  How MSHA can contribute to the process of conflict prevention?
3.  What are the impediments which are present for the pursuance of MSHA and how
these impediments could be removed?

  1. How and why MSHA is relevant for the prevention of armed conflicts in Pakistan?
  2. What is the future of MSHA for the prevention of armed conflicts?

One way to provide space for MSHA in preventing armed conflicts is by identifying actors who are directly or indirectly involved in conflict formation and negative conflict transformation. Once such actors are identified, whether individual, civil society groups, political parties, organizations or state authorities, it will become possible for their meaningful engagement. Violence and armed conflicts in parts of Karachi particularly in the conflict zone of Lyari and Orangi requires the pursuance of MSHA so that various groups involved in such conflicts so that vulnerable segments of society namely women, children, minorities and youths do not suffer endlessly.

* Professor of International Relations and Director, Program on Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution.

 

ABSTRACT # 3

WORKSHOP ON THE CHALLENGE OF CONFLICT PREVENTION IN PAKISTAN: A CASE STUDY OF KARACHI
ORGANIZED BY THE PROGRAM ON PEACE STUDIES AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION, DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF KARACHI IN COLLABORATION WITH THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR THE PREVENTION OF ARMED CONFLICTS
DECEMBER 23, 2014

 

PREVENTIVE ACTION AND MULTI-STAKEHOLDER APPROACH: A REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE BY
AARANYA RAJASINGAM*

 

While the 2014 Global Peace Index marks South Asia as one of the least peaceful regions of the world, it also accepts that from 2008 the index has witnessed the reduction in peace indicators globally. Peace, ironically, has become, more and more, a myth sought after by people worldwide, who are caught in the middle of cyclical, long term, violent conflicts, in the 21st century. There have been many developments in the area of peace-building since the end of WW II, particularly in the realms of international governance and justice, which have attempted to form checks and balances targeted at curtailing rogue practices. However, at times these very strategies for peace have led to new conflicts or exacerbated old ones.
In South Asia, the growing economic, military and nuclear power and technology in the region have meant that the stakes of conflict have risen rapidly in the region. The potential to do greater harm is higher and comparatively fewer efforts have been taken to implement a regional mechanism looking at conflict prevention, management and resolution.  The regional bloc, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), remains hostage to tensions among member states and its gains minimal. It lags behind many of the neighboring regional blocs such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the more recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Central Asia on security and peace issues. For any conflict prevention strategy to be implemented effectively on a regional level there has to be a regional architecture in place that facilitates that cooperation through incentives and rewards.  Without the infrastructure to support peace-building ties, the onus is really placed on more powerful countries to initiate bilateral ties- which don’t naturally facilitate regional cooperation in the long term in the region.
The Multi-Stakeholder (MSH) Approach has gained currency in a very large way among peace-building communities worldwide for its ability to enhance participation of individuals and groups and providing avenues for negotiation. This reduces opportunities available for violent conflict. Though on a regional level there is much to be desired, this approach has significant traction on local and national levels in all the countries of the region. Particularly, this paper will focus on two national-level MSH approaches that are currently underway in the post-war context in the region: Nepal and Sri Lanka. Both countries have emerged from protracted violent conflicts and their response to post-war peace-building and reconciliation are evidence of the potential of such process as well as its challenges within particular socio-political contexts. This paper will seek to understand what is the MSH approach and what form has it taken in these two countries on a National Level? What has been the outcome of its adoption in reconciliation initiatives? What are the challenges for its implementation and impediments to its success? Should it be made more sustainable and what are the requirements to do so?

* Program Officer, Regional Center for Strategic Studies, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

 

ABSTRACT # 4

WORKSHOP ON THE CHALLENGE OF CONFLICT PREVENTION IN PAKISTAN: A CASE STUDY OF KARACHI
ORGANIZED BY THE PROGRAM ON PEACE STUDIES AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION, DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF KARACHI IN COLLABORATION WITH THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR THE PREVENTION OF ARMED CONFLICTS
DECEMBER 23, 2014

 

ENGAGING YOUTHS IN PEACE BUILDING AND CONFLICT PREVENTION
BY DR. NAJAM ABBAS*


My paper aims to to analyze parameters promoting optimal youth participation in the society which could potentially contribute to keep them away from violence and conflict. Basically, the research seeks to answer the question why despite being the largest demographic component of the society the youth remain disenfranchised in Pakistan. My fieldwork has been about youth choices [lack thereof] and consequences of disenfranchisement and marginalization.
Based on field work in Gilgit-Baltistan region, my research sheds light on perceptions of the local youth about: the nature and direction of their society; dynamics of relations among different sectors of the society; limitations and opportunities the youth face; the pre-requisites to empower the youth; and finally measures for effective youth and society dynamics.
State actors and civil society in Pakistan need to find ways and spell out strategies to address specific challenges to help prevent youth ending up on the path of violence. In my research I found many essential factors contributing to such conditions namely:   (1)   Neglect (2) Lack of enfranchisement (3) Inability to address crucial problems;  (4) Mismatch of priorities (5) Arbitrary allocation of resources (6) Short-sightedness (7) A fractured fraternity (Lack of collaborated efforts by the community for the development of community) (8) Lack of accountability (9) Pacifying and placating the populace; (10) Implications of sect-centered activism; (11) Extent of being voiceless and helplessness (12) People’s inability to muster necessary strength (13) Prioritizing on personal preference (14) Frustration among youth which makes them opt for an exit once qualified enough to serve outside their home town.
This analysis provides insights in to how youth in other parts of Pa
kistan also encounter similar if not identical challenges albeit in varying degrees of intensity.

* East West Institute's Senior Fellow (Central and South Asia), Brussels.

 

ABSTRACT # 5

WORKSHOP ON THE CHALLENGE OF CONFLICT PREVENTION IN PAKISTAN: A CASE STUDY OF KARACHI
ORGANIZED BY THE PROGRAM ON PEACE STUDIES AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION, DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF KARACHI IN COLLABORATION WITH THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR THE PREVENTION OF ARMED CONFLICTS
DECEMBER 23, 2014

 

CONFLICT PREVENTION MECHANISM IN PAKISTAN: NEEDS AND REQUIREMENTS
BY DR. ARSHI SALEEM HASHMI*

 

Prevention is consists of methods or activities that seeks to reduce or deter specific or predictable problems. It aims to protect the well being and works for desired outcomes or behaviors. Conflict prevention is based on predictability and potentiality. The techniques applied confront the problem of what appears as “obvious” and what could be the shape and form of potential issue in future. Wavering attitude on part of government to endorse plan of action based on policy research is most of the time appears to be the biggest challenge to practitioners in the field. If and when conflict prevention is used as political instrument, it should take into account power and interest dynamics but more importantly, the desirability of intervention in the conflict. It is very important for the states confronted with violent conflict to consider the moral side of the problem also, meaning that conflict prevention should not only be to maintain the status quo (situation before the eruption of the conflict/or mobilization of groups) but to have a permanent solution to prevent future eruption of conflict.
In case of Pakistan, conflict prevention cannot be reasonably carried out if the intention is only to get some sort of solution for a short term. If the administration’s aim is to prevent violence by a more violent and militaristic approach; then, in fact, the conflict becomes more complex, taking many new shapes and variations leading to intense aggression between conflicting parties.  The biggest challenge in Pakistan is that conflict prevention is assumed as a technique to be applied to prevent a conflict from further escalation of violence (although in some cases it can be done), but it should target the cause rather than the symptoms. The stake holders that include government, political parties and civil society in a multi dynamic nature of conflicts should adopt appropriate measures to prevent emergence of conflicts. The thinking in developing countries, particularly in Pakistan unfortunately has been to ‘get rid of the problem’ instead of addressing the root issues causing tension between the communities. Long-term strategies are missing, the “factors” and not the “victims” need to be addressed.  In other words, conflict prevention must primarily serve the needs of the population, and not to stabilize a political regime or form of government, which is a common practice. What is required in Pakistani context is to invest, investigate, apply and strengthen the approaches, methods and mechanisms used to avoid, minimize, and/or contain potential violent conflicts; and in post-conflict environments, to prevent violent conflict from re-emerging. The financial and political costs of managing conflict are much higher once violent conflict has already erupted.
Pakistan needs to strengthen the mechanism that takes both the direct/operational prevention as well as the structural prevention. Direct/operational refers to short term actions taken to prevent the often imminent escalation of potential conflict at civil society level (e.g. workshops, dialogue, confidence-building measures, sanctions, coercive diplomacy, special envoys, preventive deployment); and state level structural prevention which long term interventions that aim to transform key socioeconomic, political and institutional factors that if left unaddressed, could add to complex violent conflict in the future. Along with that 'systemic prevention’ is also a key factor to address trans-national conflict risks which have been influencing and contributing to most of the conflicts in Pakistan today.

* Assistant Professor, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, National Defense University, Islamabad.

 

ABSTRACT # 6

WORKSHOP ON THE CHALLENGE OF CONFLICT PREVENTION IN PAKISTAN: A CASE STUDY OF KARACHI
ORGANIZED BY THE PROGRAM ON PEACE STUDIES AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION, DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF KARACHI IN COLLABORATION WITH THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR THE PREVENTION OF ARMED CONFLICTS
DECEMBER 23, 2014


CONFLICT DYNAMICS OF KARACHI AND ITS IMPLICATIONS
BY DR. NAEEM AHMED*


Karachi, a city of migrants and the largest business capital of Pakistan, has been in the grip of ‘unending’ conflicts for the last several decades. Conflicts in Karachi are not a new phenomenon. The city has been witnessing both ethnic and sectarian conflicts since 1950s. These included: Anti-Ahmediya riots in 1950s and 1970s; Sindhi-Mohajir conflict in 1970s and 1980s; Mohajir-Pathan conflict in 1960s and 1980s; Mohajir-Punjabi conflict in 1980s; and sectarian conflict in 1990s.
However, today, conflicts in Karachi can be seen not only in continuation of the old trends, such as ethnic with reference to MQM vs. other nationalities, and sectarian related to traditional Shia-Sunni schism, but also the introduction of Al-Qaeda related terrorism carried out by the home-grown militant Jihadi groups, such as the TTP, as a reaction to the US-led military campaign in Afghanistan and Pakistani State’s U-Turn vis-à-vis Taliban regime after the 9/11 incident. 
In order to understand the dynamics of conflict in today’s Karachi, there are four different, but inter-related and in some cases overlapping, aspects, which not only have made the situation more complex, but also led to a perpetual wave of violence in the city. These aspects are: sectarian (Shia vs. Sunni conflict; and Sunni vs. Sunni conflict); ethno-political (Urdu-speaking Mohajirs vs. other nationalities, e.g., Pathans, Punjabis, Sindhis; and intra-MQM feuds, e.g., MQM-A vs. Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi (MQM-H); criminal (gangs involved in street crimes; Layari gangs; land mafia groups; Taliban’s involvement in kidnapping for ransom, bank robberies etc.); and terrorism-related violence (Taliban/Al-Qaeda attacks on military installations, airport etc., and Taliban vs. secular and liberal political parties, e.g., Awami National Party (ANP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM-Altaf), Pakistan Peoples Party).  
The protracted conflicts have major security, political and socio-economic implications not only for Karachi, but also for Pakistan and the world at large. A deteriorating security situation not only will further weaken the writ of state, but also made Karachi a violence-prone and the most dangerous mega city in the world, according to the Foreign Policy (FP) Magazine. A failure to resolve conflicts would further provide an opportunity to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants to increase their activities in the city and thus squeeze the political space of the major political parties. The growing influence of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants would also affect the NATO supply route, particularly in the wake of the US’ drawdown in 2015 since Karachi is the primary entry point for NATO supplies for Afghanistan. In terms of socio-economic implications, the social and economic indicators of development would be alarmingly affected, and make the lives of ordinary people more miserable, as the city is the largest commercial hub of Pakistan.
Keeping in view the current scenario in Karachi, it seems highly difficult that the violence would end in the foreseeable future. In today’s scenario, the resolution of conflicts and preservation of peace in the city may only be possible if a multi-stakeholder approach is adopted by bringing all the major actors that are involved in conflicts together. Merely using force or by launching targeted operation against the criminals or militants in the city, peace in Karachi would remain a pipedream.

* Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, University of Karachi.

 

ABSTRACT # 7

WORKSHOP ON THE CHALLENGE OF CONFLICT PREVENTION IN PAKISTAN: A CASE STUDY OF KARACHI
ORGANIZED BY THE PROGRAM ON PEACE STUDIES AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION, DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF KARACHI IN COLLABORATION WITH THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR THE PREVENTION OF ARMED CONFLICTS
DECEMBER 23, 2014


EDUCATION FOR CONFLICT PREVENTION: THE ROLE OF MINORITIES
BY DR. BERNADETTE L. DEAN*


Each day violent conflict is becoming more serious and pervasive in Pakistan. Practically everyone has had some experience of violent conflict either directly or indirectly through experiences of family and friends or exposure to graphic reports in the media. Pakistan is ranked 157 out of 162 countries on the Global Peace Index (Vision of Humanity, 2013). According to the Global Terrorism Index, no other country, aside from Iraq, has been as affected by terrorism as Pakistan (Institute for Economics and Peace, 2012).
There is also a sustained increase in violent crimes such as murder, attempted murder and kidnapping; with kidnappings more than doubling over the last ten years (Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, 2013).
Homes and schools are generally thought to be safe places. In Pakistan, however, this is not the case. Women suffer high levels of violence inside their homes .According to the National Institute of Population Studies (2013), one third of married women suffer domestic abuse both physical and psychological: including severe beatings, taunts and even rape. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed concern over the increasing incidence of violence against women that take the form of honor killings, gang rapes, and acid attacks (2013). Girls and young women are often subjected to physical violence for insisting they be sent to or allowed to continue their schooling. There is evidence to suggest that there is a high incidence of bullying and corporal punishment in schools (Dean, 2008 a & b).
As a result of the high incidence of violent conflict in the society, there is increasing tolerance for the use of violence in conflict situations and violent behavior is becoming accepted and normalized. A culture of violence is developing and could become entrenched as violent conflict escalates and the few mechanisms to diffuse conflict peacefully are weakened.
The paper will focus on the work done to prevent conflict (actions designed to avoid, manage or contain, and resolve conflicts before they become violent) by the minorities (a term by which Pakistani citizens who belong to faiths other than Islam have been identified since the late seventies) focusing mainly on their work  in the field of education. It will discuss the work done to increase access, improve quality and facilitate success of all the young people in their educational institutions. It will also discuss the work done to build a culture of peace by viewing education as an agent of transformation rather than reproduction. In keeping with this view, making schools non-violent environments, integrating peace education across the curriculum, educating teachers to understand and work for peace, teaching students to deal with conflict in non-violent ways and to work for peace in their homes and communities.
Drawing on lessons learnt suggestions will be made for development of a conflict prevention education program aimed at creating a more peaceful society.

* Director and Professor, VM Institute for Education, Karachi

 

 

ABSTRACT # 8

WORKSHOP ON THE CHALLENGE OF CONFLICT PREVENTION IN PAKISTAN: A CASE STUDY OF KARACHI
ORGANIZED BY THE PROGRAM ON PEACE STUDIES AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION, DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF KARACHI IN COLLABORATION WITH THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR THE PREVENTION OF ARMED CONFLICTS
DECEMBER 23, 2014

 

CONFLICT DYNAMICS OF KARACHI : THE ROLE OF YOUTH
BY PROF. DR. FATEH MUHAMMAD BURFAT*


Violence in diversified forms like ethno-political, sectarian, militant, along with criminal indulgence has prevailed and adversely affected Pakistan’s largest city and commercial hub Karachi. Failure to reach a mutual understanding regarding the issue of Karachi by the law enforcement agencies and also by major political parties, has further deteriorated the situation, leading towards destabilization of Pakistan as a whole. More than 50,000 people have been killed within the past decade, in terrorism-related violence in Pakistan and  more than 7,000 lives have been lost since 2008 in Karachi. Pakistan continues to face multiple internal as well as external threats to peace and Youth radicalization in Pakistan can be best understood as a product of closed Islamic identity in combination with a broader understanding of existing socio-economic and political conditions of the country.
Violence in Karachi leads to the destabilization of Pakistan for economic and political reasons, as the city contributes more than 25% of the GDP and because Karachi is ethnically diverse, so it becomes a battleground for all of the major political parties, thus key to the domestic political stability. The armed wings of major political parties are the main perpetrators of urban violence, as the parties clash over the city resources. Various militant groups, like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other extremist sectarian organizations, have consolidated their presence in the respective city. While the State initiatives to stem violence are superficial, including politicization of the Police, poor urban planning, and above all a flawed criminal justice system. Interventions by the Rangers /Pakistan Army and Supreme Court have temporarily helped in disrupting the cycle of violence, but it has not offered a sustainable solution to the city’s violent politics.
Religious identity in Pakistan is far more important than nationality. At the extreme ends, this form of closed, homogenized self-identity can increase the youth inclination towards radicalization, as violent terrorist attacks are not merely the product of a single actor operating in isolation, but are instead embedded in a larger political and social environment. Some militant groups operate openly in the country, and this is really a dilemma, as they are establishing parallel educational and training institutions, collecting financial donations and even distributing their published contents and running their own media.
Confronting youth radicalization in Pakistan requires a holistic approach. Strengthening civil society and engaging mass media to support programs that focus on interfaith and inter-sectarian harmony, tolerance, and diversity is very crucial. Local cultural diversity should be encouraged and centers should be established to ensure youth participation in cultural activities, social clubs, sports as well as professional and vocational organizations. Youth centers for low-income communities can be supported by government and by private institutions, encompassing cultural activities and vocational skills’ trainings. Universities and Colleges should initiate courses on peace and conflict resolution and interactive workshops should also be held to bring youth on a common platform. As the radicalization and conflict in youth stems from cultural socialization; therefore, a strategy needs to be focused by opening up the debate and dialogue culture in Pakistani Youth, particularly in Karachi. The present paper is an exploratory study based on secondary data.

* Professor and Chairman Department of Criminology, University of Karachi

 

ABSTRACT # 9

WORKSHOP ON
THE CHALLENGE OF CONFLICT PREVENTION IN PAKISTAN: A CASE STUDY OF KARACHI
ORGANIZED BY THE PROGRAM ON PEACE STUDIES AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION, DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF KARACHI IN COLLABORATION WITH THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR THE PREVENTION OF ARMED CONFLICTS
DECEMBER 23, 2014

THE ROLE OF WOMEN BY MS. NARGIS REHMAN*

 

The city of Karachi, with approximately eighteen million population divided into 5 districts and 18 towns, has been regarded as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Today eight low income areas of the city that are densely populated, 1.Lyari (District South), Kati Pahari (District West), North Karachi, Ancholi (District Central), Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Johar (District Central), Jaffer Tayar, Asoo Goth, Bakra Piri (District Malir), Quaidabad, Landhi (District East) parts of Gadap Town are the most volatile and suffer the highest violence. The violence ranges from political sectarian ethnic, to turf wars for land and extortion (quoted figure fifty crores a day), to mafia and gang wars and organized crime which reaches out to all parts of the city. The directly affected population could be 2 million but the insecurity touches all areas.
The major players are political parties (who happen to be partners in the provincial coalition government who can at short notice shut the city down. The others are the entrenched criminal mafias with strong affiliations to political parties with new entrants, sectarian and terrorist organizations, and splinter groups such as the PAC. In the cross fire between the militant political wings not just the targeted victim but thousand of innocent citizens have lost their lives and entire areas are still no go zones. The 2011 Supreme Court order on Karachi violence was never effected, the city remained inundated with weapons, no go areas remained intact, political parties did not disband their militant wings, the provincial government failed in their half hearted operations against criminals, and thus in 2013 the federal government ordered, a large scale rangers operation. The crime graph declined with a large number of terrorists and criminals being arrested, but key leaders of criminal gangs went underground and the terrorist organizations returned to their original bases.
The rangers operation has not improved the space for women to live normal lives. The environment of fear permeates entire localities. That limits their options. Some have had to leave their jobs and education. If the violence has killed or the police have, interned their male bread earners, they have to become income earners. Women and children in the violence rid areas and especially those that have been subjected to physical assaults develop physical ailments and psychological trauma. In areas where extremists and Jihadi, elements have numerous madrasas’s women have started wearing burkhas! On rare occasions mothers have succeeded in persuading the elders of the warring ethnic groups to come to a settlement so that they do not lose more family members.
Media has played a major role in highlighting this situation. Civil society, NGO have visited affected areas issued reports, distributed relief goods, organized protests, and work shops and petitioned the Supreme Court. But the lacunae in governance, police enforcement, prosecution, and sentencing of criminals leaves little hope for peace in Karachi, till political parties (whether in or out of government) start honoring the promises of their respective mandates.

* Chairperson, Pakistan Women Foundation for Peace, Karachi.