After deadly Pakistan violence in Karachi, police have arrested
dozens of suspected Islamist hardliners. Some analysts believe they
are little more than window-dressing aimed at pacifying an
increasingly angry population.
Police in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi have arrested
dozens of alleged Islamist hardliners suspected in the assassination
of a local political leader, according to reports.
The killing of Raza Haider, a provincial parliamentarian and
member of the secular Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party, outside
his mosque on Monday sparked deadly rioting that has paralyzed
Pakistan's financial hub. On Wednesday, the death toll rose to 63 as
the city of 18 million people remained on almost total lockdown. In
addition to the dead, dozens more have been injured.
Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik was quick to pin the
blame yesterday on banned sectarian militant outfits Sipah-e-Sahaba
Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ), which both have a history
of anti-Shia violence in the city. But some analysts believe the
current wave of arrests is little more than window-dressing aimed at
pacifying an increasingly angry population.
Police aren't talking
Noting that Karachi police themselves have remained tight-lipped
about the nature of the arrests, Badar Alam, editor of Karachi-
based news weekly the Herald, says: "They don't have any solid
evidence. They don't have the right kind of clues. They are now
nabbing anyone who comes in their sights, and will probably release
the majority of them sooner or later."
Karachi police chief Waseem Ahmed refused to comment to the
Monitor in a phone conversation when asked for more details on the
nature of the arrests.
Pakistan has a record of first arresting and then releasing
suspected militants. This could be, in part, a result of the
government's mixed dealings with militant groups. In February, for
example, the law minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, Rana
Sanaullah, reportedly campaigned with a SSP leader in what was seen
as a way to gain support for his PML-N party in the provincial by-
Still, Pakistan's intelligence agencies classify SSP as a
terrorist organization. The SSP historically has close ties with LJ,
according to Imtiaz Gul of the Center for Research and Security
Studies in Islamabad. "Many believe that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was
created as a cover for the more violent activities of the SSP and
began its life as the SSP's militant arm," Mr. …