Just before leaving last week, I got a phone call from my worried wife about how bad things were in Karachi and that I should reconsider coming there. I had missed the news about the suicide bombing during Friday prayers on the 7th and apparently, things were starting to get ugly there.
I decided to ignore the warning and stick to my schedule since I assumed the worst was over. The day I arrived, there had been some riots earlier and there was talk of a couple of protestors getting killed, but the ride home from Karachi station was just like that on any other day. Reports of isolated incidents of violence continued to come in during my stay, though I really couldn’t see what the fuss was about. The only disturbing part was how the security forces were rounding up and detaining so many innocent young men on the slightest suspicion.
Other than the unfortunate and despicable bombing, the killings seem to be limited to men actively involved in riots and protests or those who ignore common sense and wander into the wrong areas at the wrong time. Though some of the violence may have been sectarian, a lot of it was the result of local elections which were held on Wednesday.
From what I gathered, things used to be much worse some years back and the smallest act of this nature causes great concern to Karachiites. I still remember reading about dozens, sometimes as many as sixty or seventy people being killed daily in drive-by shootings and other attacks so this isn’t surprising.
Still, Karachiites seemed much more resilient than before. The markets were bustling with shoppers and life went on as usual most of the time. I even heard people joke about how there are still more new borns each day than those killed.
I managed to leave on time on Friday despite a strike call by a political party, but I really would like to see more of Karachi and try to find some business there. I just hope the government does something to improve the situation and root out the perpetrators since any disturbance in Karachi has a lasting effect on the rest of Pakistan.