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Karachi: private militias and arms smuggling

16 September 2011

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Daily Times, 15 September 2011

by Musa Khan Jalalzai

The inconsiderate policies of previous governments resulted in the reorganisation of sectarian infrastructure in a new form. The arrest of some members of sectarian groups recently opened up some important revelations before the police about the future role of these groups

Target killing in Karachi has been a highly destructive phenomenon since the 1980s. Both former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and President Asif Ali Zardari agree on the point that terror networks across the country were deliberately created and nurtured in the past. The recent target killings in Karachi and the networks of private militias, their way of killing and torturing innocent citizens astonished the whole world. Though there have been different roots of violence in the city, the primary roots are considered to be unchecked and unregulated religious schools that introduced suicide attacks against civilian and military targets. A majority of these schools have employed teachers from banned organisations such as Jaish-e-Mohammed, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Pashtun Taliban, Punjabi Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Afghan refugees play their own specific ethnic role. In 2010, police arrested a few Taliban fighters while thousands more suspected members of Jundullah, the Badar Mansoor group, Kharooj, the Al-Mukhtar group, Punjabi Taliban, Asian Tigers, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami, Jundul Hafsa, Al-Furqan and Al-Qataal are still killing innocent people, collecting illegal taxes, and are involved in robbery, theft and looting. The inconsiderate policies of previous governments resulted in the reorganisation of sectarian infrastructure in a new form. The arrest of some members of sectarian groups recently opened up some important revelations before the police about the future role of these groups. Moreover, the city became a hub of international criminal gangs, drug and arms smugglers, and these syndicates have now become a roosting ground for the private militias of the Sunni and Shia sects.

Terrorists arrested in Karachi in August 2011 revealed a frightening story of killing, torture and arms smuggling. Their links with drug and land mafias and the emergence of terror networks in schools, colleges and universities is another misadventure faced by the government. In May 2011, an arrested student of Karachi University told the police investigation team that hundreds of his colleagues were fighting on ethnic lines. Another source confirmed a big terror network organised in Karachi University, NED University, and Dawood College of Engineering and Technology.

In addition to colleges and universities, the network of terrorist groups in Karachi prisons amply spread disillusion and fear in the police department. This network receives financial support from outside. Notwithstanding Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s assurance that police found major clues to the target killers, violence still swallows up innocent citizens in Karachi.

In September last year, Pakistani newspapers quoted a secret ISI report about the activities of Blackwater. Blackwater’s first known contract with the CIA for operations in Afghanistan was awarded in 2002 and was for work along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Pakistan’s military establishment thinks that the US supports anti-Pakistan elements fighting against Pakistani security forces in the tribal areas as the CIA conducts its covert war in Pakistan through Blackwater or Xe Services. The issue of the existence of Blackwater in Pakistan became clear when ex-US Defence Secretary Robert Gates in an interview with a TV channel in January 2010 confirmed that Blackwater and DynCorp were operating inside Pakistan.

As far as terror finance is concerned, the UK-based Pakistani ethnic and sectarian groups channel a huge amount of money through fake IDs to their respective groups in Karachi. This illegal transaction of money plays a major role in the purchase of arms and ammunition for ethnic and sectarian terrorists.

Last year, the Sindh Assembly was told that thousands of sophisticated weapons were smuggled into Karachi. On August 2, 2011, CID officials claimed to have seized rocket-launchers, rockets, weapons and bullets from a terror group. Moreover, the Anti-Extremism Cell (AEC) in Karachi seized heavy weapons from a sectarian group.

As international security experts have already warned about the smuggling networks of Afghan, Irani and Pakistani smugglers who smuggle drugs and arms from Central Asia, the Middle East and Iran into Karachi, police and security agencies have so far failed in tracking down their local connections. A secret document in Karachi recently revealed that Sri Lankan terror group, LTTE, had established an arms smuggling network in Karachi on September 14, 2009. The document revealed that LTTE had established joint arms smuggling networks with a number of international terrorist groups. Al Qaeda agent Mohammed Ali Qasim alias Abu Sohaib al-Makki was recently arrested living in the country for 10 years.

In February 2011, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) arrested serial killers, including a retired army officer, involved in arms smuggling in Karachi. There are more than 35 sectarian terror groups and 25 illegal tax collecting religious and ethnic groups who have besieged the city from all sides. Arms are being smuggled into Karachi via the Gulf and the Arabian Sea. The underground networks of Afghan, Irani, Pakistani and Central Asian arms and drug smugglers has created a warlike situation in the city. Finally: these are some factors behind the killing, burning, battering, and smashing in Karachi over the last three decades. As the state and its institutions are mired in corruption, violence is spreading across the country. Recent violence caused more than Rs 12 billion a day loss. Other statistics revealed that more than 35,000 students and 700 teachers from violence-hit areas are not attending schools and colleges. Poverty, unemployment, sectarianism, ethnicity and arms smuggling may further exacerbate the level of violence in the city.

The writer is the author of Afghanistan Beyond 2014 and Punjabi Taliban. He can be reached at zai.musakhan222[AT]gmail.com

P.S.

The above article from the Daily Times is reproduced here for educational purposes and is for educational use.