The issue of strike against extortion in Karachi is multifaceted – and it is increasingly becoming complex in the wake of the ‘political hijacking’ of the movement and the divide between the trade bodies.
Karachi, like several other big cities of past and present, has had a history of gang wars, and other types of crimes like kidnappings, protection money, and so forth. So yes, it makes sense to strive for the elimination of the same.
However, it should be kept in mind that there needs to be a tangible enemy. The object should be to avoid the war-on-terror fallacy, a phrase that doesn’t objectively pin point the culprit with clearly defined boundaries.
The effort, therefore, should be against extortionists, not extortion. And it’s no hidden secret who the real culprits are in Karachi – those who are suffering know fully well, though they don’t have the courage to say exactly who they are.
Similarly, those who are supposed to protect them from the suffering also have knowledge of the miscreants – except that their hands are reportedly tied due to political considerations.
The failure, therefore, is on the part of the city’s political parties in the government, MQM, PPP and ANP. Yet, as this newspaper earlier noted, “it is difficult to recall any significant attempt on the part of the government to stamp out the menace”.
At the same time, however, it is pertinent to note that two wrongs don’t make a right. Reportedly, several shops, including medical stores, and restaurants were forcibly shut down yesterday. In other words, the trade association, or the parties that have supported their movement, are extorting in a strike against extortion. Talk about insanity.
Moreover, while the 10-point charter of demands put forward by the KCCI covers a lot of important elements, the focus should be on getting some heads rolling if the government fails to make progress on anti-extortion front.
But, at the same time, it must also be borne in mind that this is an age-old issue in Karachi, and the government, even if turns puritan overnight, cannot be expected to change the course in a short span of 7-10 days.
The ways of making democracy work entail continuous and persistent efforts – not overnight outbursts of violence and strikes. The political parties, the governing administration and the traders should understand this notion soon.