Root causes – What are you looking at?

In the last couple of days, trying to figure out what would actually drive people towards commiting the ‘massacare’ of 5/12, i’ve come up with many opinions. I dont believe in playing the blame game just for the sake of blaming someone. It may mark me as an outsider, or someone against ‘common sense’ but thats how i see it. I’m not content with the reason “xxx political party nay kya”, “ghundo ka kaam hai” etc. I try to go beyond these labels, try to understand what forces people to pick up a gun in the first place. No one is a murderer or a terrorist by birth, circumstances make them into what they are. And in trying to find sense amid this chaos, i came across this article in Dawn, “What are you looking at” published on May 10th and written by imalik, and it traces things back to where the decay in mentality really lies. I’m posting the complete article here, so that we may make our own conclusions from it.

If there is something which can be taken as a lesson from 5/12, is that we need to learn tolerance and reverance for our fellow man. To rid ourselves of our ‘attitude’, because as bad as we may have it, others are going through the same, or even worse.

Makes you think sometimes but not often enough. Karachi has lost much of its civility over the years, and why not. There is no shortage of irritants in the concrete jungle where life is becoming ever more harried but without the comforts that industry and honest toil are meant to deliver to the hard-working.

Ours is a twisted system that offers greater reward to desk-bound paper-pushers and word merchants in air-conditioned cubicles than men digging ditches under the baking sun. Not that the office workers’ is a particularly enviable lot. They are overworked and underpaid, the public transport system treats them like cattle, a 50-minute commute takes three hours thanks to the traffic and what used to be a ten-minute drive can take sixty. Worse, reaching journey’s end is no guarantee of repose.

Braving the traffic horror you finally get home, only to stew in your juices as KESC goes AWOL yet again. A bath would be nice but, sorry, the water stopped trickling an hour ago and the pump won’t work. It’s dehumanising.

It wasn’t always like this. Candles and their stubs used to last years, retrieved from a special hidey-hole — if you could remember where you stashed them — and dusted off in an emergency. Like the koel there was something vaguely monsoon-esque about power failures, coming as they did soon after the first pitter-patter of rain. Now they are the norm and we are like laboratory rats being subjected to twice the maximum dosage, just to see if we can take it and live to tell the tale.

Tempers fray easily under these conditions. Arguments over restaurant bills turn fatal and minor car scrapes degenerate into fistfights. People scowl habitually and an absent-minded smile will most likely be met with a stroppy `kya dekh rahe ho?’ (what are you looking at?) Not your ugly mug, you retort, shelving the stray happy thought and diving headlong into the stinking cesspool of urban mental decay.

Then there is the air and noise pollution that is, quite literally, driving us crazy. Studies by people who know their chemicals confirm that Karachi is not fit for human consumption. The air we breathe is a heady mix of carbon dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide, hydrocarbons and suspended particulate matter, all well in excess of acceptable levels.

Irritability and sudden rage are classic symptoms of exposure to these pollutants, as are allergies, headaches, nausea, respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart problems and brain damage.

Usually it is city ways that transform life in the hinterland. In Karachi these days the opposite is true. We are experiencing an erosion of urbaneness and the invasion of a mindset that is insufferably macho and feudal in its provincialism.

Security henchmen for the show of it. Stopping in the middle of the street instead of pulling over to the side just because you can in your Lexus, and the people stuck behind you be damned. Not indicating while turning because only girlie-boys do that. People sporting the fierce tribal look instead of the cultured and refined. Even bankers in nylon ties look good by comparison.

Dehshat and izzat have come to be conflated in this incongruously modern yet medieval lifestyle we purport from the rafters. The irony is lost on all but a few.

Those in Karachi who rail against feudalism to further their cash-lined agendas are part and parcel of this mass display of vulgarity. Sadly, most people are not only impressed by this nouveau trash but aspire to it. We once lived in a city, now we worship at the altar of barbarity.

There was a time when what a person did for a living was more important than how much money he made. Old middle-aged fools like myself can’t help but reminisce about the way it was, in our dotage wonder what happened to the Karachi that was our pride and joy.

Enough said, for now.

15 Comments so far

  1. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on May 15th, 2007 @ 3:43 pm

    Quote–There was a time when what a person did for a living was more important than how much money he made.–Unquote

    The whole article is worth a sensible thinking by elevating ourselves from everything but Humanity.

    Whole article is about importance of human values and human importance, tolerance and respect for others.

    Salutes to the writer, & indeed great applause for the contributor.

    Bless you

  2. faylasuf (unregistered) on May 15th, 2007 @ 4:03 pm

    Blast in Peshawar, 20 Dead..

    What next

  3. original-faisal (unregistered) on May 15th, 2007 @ 4:11 pm


    I’m sorry but your attempts to sound all sane and logical now are completely overshadowed by your initial words of a few posts ago.

    quote “In a city of 15 million people, with over 6 hours of firing in over 10 areas of the city, only 20 people lost their lives.” unquote

    quote “and i have to say, never have i been prouder of being a karachiite than today.” unquote

    quote “Today, i was impressed by the leadership of MQM, and today i truly understand why they own the city!” unquote


  4. Asif Raza (unregistered) on May 15th, 2007 @ 4:38 pm

    its only a counterstrike playground for the political parties !!!! Karachi Rulez

  5. BitterTruth (unregistered) on May 15th, 2007 @ 5:13 pm

    So the pro military author has come up with new tactic to hide the killing and massacre responsibility(which upto such “small” is not worthy for author, as shown in quotes by Original-Faisal).
    Good attempt mansoor!

  6. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on May 15th, 2007 @ 5:50 pm

    I must admit that Huma was ghairatmand that she didn’t come back after her last post * shakes his head*.

  7. mansoor (unregistered) on May 15th, 2007 @ 6:34 pm

    to all: my previous post was as i saw it, analyze it a bit less emotionally and you might see for yourselves. But anyway, my basic premise is promoting tolerance.

    My views about the Army or MQM, if do generate heat from you guys, are my own.

    Anything you say against me for that, i can take them. I have conviction is my own views, that is enough for me.

  8. ash (unregistered) on May 15th, 2007 @ 9:44 pm

    mansoor i think this post of yours is great and a whole lot of people many i am sure on this blog support parties who have a lot to be blamed for too, so as you mentioned you have every right to your beliefs.
    Personally i cant continue to support the MQM at this point but i dont agree with blaming the govt for that. The govt was being oppurtunist the frickin CJ was oppurtunist and the MQM (mainly) with some comaraderie from PPP and IJI turned the whole thing into a massacre.

  9. Imran (unregistered) on May 15th, 2007 @ 9:57 pm

    nice thoughts, but I think your arguements are self defeating.. on eone hand you would like to believe that no part should be blamed and that no one is a born killer and terrorist, yet on the other hand, you would like to blame the weather, KESC, traffic jams, the Lexus driver and almost everything else under the sun ….
    Dont you see the contradiction yourself ….
    YES, everyone is to be blamed, some more than the others.. the ones who killed on 5/12 obviously have more blame than people, like me and you, who havent killed, but yet condone the laziness, the mediocrity, the bribery and everything else that crosses our paths everyday.
    Just a thought …..

  10. ANONYMOUS (unregistered) on May 16th, 2007 @ 12:16 am

    “By basic premise is promoting tolerance”

    lofty ideals, I must say…but tolerance isn’t something that pops out of thin air…tolerance is concomitant to a civilized society…where the rule of law is established…where we have an underlying guarantee that we have certain inalienable rights…where we can look up to the state to ensure those rights…else it is just every man for himself…such an environment will breed the kind of craziness we saw in Karachi on 5/12…it is here where i find your refusal to condemn MQM astonishing…you wanted proof…AAJ TV (Talat Hussein show) showed footage of gun-brandishing gundas being escorted by police mobiles…the government complicit in the entire affair….in fact it orchestrated the massacre…they announce a rally to coincide with the CJs arrival…that reeks of malafide…then the entire state machinery becomes complicit in the violence…we have accounts from KMB contributors of a state-MQM liaison wrecking havoc in Karachi…sometimes we just need to call a spade a spade

  11. Petarian_88 (unregistered) on May 16th, 2007 @ 12:47 am


  12. Cyrum (unregistered) on May 18th, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

    The battle ground was area populated by ANP stalwarts, aaj tv came in between thus they believe that they have been targetted. nonsense who could have stopped the mob who wanted to walkin and destroy the whole building it was burndown 2 years back by sunni therik and sipah sahaba without a hassle, mqm ruled the city even then

    agenda was prepared somewhere else executed in karachi using mqm and anp

    everyone’s hand are bloody no one is innocent be it CJ, COAS, President or the SINDH Govt all are beneficiries of blood money somehow

  13. NEDIAN ALI (FE) (unregistered) on May 20th, 2007 @ 2:57 am

    “”” GO AGAIN AND WACTH “””

  14. JAFRI (unregistered) on May 20th, 2007 @ 6:12 am

    Who attacked Business Recorder/ Aaj TV , 5 years ago don’t you remember the whole building was burnt, my uncle lost his vehicle and haven’t recieved any compensation as yet? Who was it if you remember?

  15. M.Kamran Khan Ghouri (unregistered) on May 27th, 2007 @ 2:18 am

    Asalam Alaikum, Dear Friends, Brothers, Sisters and elders i want to ask some logical questions from you and you will give the answer to your self and then think who is true and who is lier. Aitazaz Ahsan says Govn: Officials try to kidnapped CJ of Pakistan is this a joke then i can belive them is it possible that someone can Kidnape a personality like Cheif Justice of Pakistan or you can say that Cheif of Army Staff is it possible let be supposed if they are true that Officials try to kidnape him then where they will let him from air port to where?. Can they threw the CJ of Pakistan in the Ocean…? another major propoganda of AAJ TV for the marketing of their Television because at that time AAJ TV is the worst TV channel of Pakistan and is in great loss this channel is working from the support of some opposition leaders. They say that 6 hours they are under attack from anyone if you have ever seen a arm or weapon testing on BBC, Discovery channel that one bullet can damage a concreade wall if they were under attack for about 6 hours who many do you think there were bullets fired on AAJ TV according to GEO News there were only 6 Bullets on the entire office building of AAJ TV on record this fotage is, if the AAJ TV was under attack for about 6 hours then it is the guarantee that the office building will come down. Another big question that is to be answered that why Govt: does not takes any action for the armed peoples then i want to say that this is not PPP or PMLN government that they will order the law enforcement force to shoot if there was a crowd of 50 peoples and between them one people fires a bullet then what will happen if police or other force open fire to stop that person who is between 50 peoples there are two possibilities that the person will exactly be shooted down fortunatly or some one will come in place when police open fire on them and a unwanted and inocent citizen will die, this is the right discission at that moment the Govt. took. and another question every party blames MQM for law and order but the actual person who is totaly responsible for law and order is CM Dr.Arbab Gulam Raheem why anyone point that person i told because he is a Sindhi speaking and all fortunatly all parties in Pakistan are bascically enemy of Urdu Speaking society and theirefore MQM is the top most target for them bcz MQM is the only political party that will come forward to safegard speacily the rights of Urdu Speaking to whom you little minded peoples says Mahajirs. Now i want to tell you if Mahajirs are terrorist or they are extremist, ghunda, badmash etc what else you say then you are living inside the territory of these Mahajirs why i am saying this bcz who are the founder of Pakistan, Who was they, are they Pakhtons, Sindhis, Balochis. No they are not they were Mahajirs, Panjabi, Saraiki. If Mahajir are terrorist then you and your political parties and the Courts of Pakistan will answer these questions.
    1. Why Qaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s car was broken.
    2. Who give the poision to Qaid-e-Azam.
    3. Why Jamat-e-Islami fought the election against Madr-e-Millat Muhtarma Fatima Ali Jinnah.
    4. Why G. Zia ul Haq takes Extra Judiciary Killing on Urdu Speakings.
    5. Why Bhutto in the name of Socialization over takes the properties of Mahajirs, i.e. factories, Milles, Business, Property.
    6. Why Bhutto can’t add Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur in his Quota System for Employment.

    until that events MQM was not formed who is now responsible for these answer these questions if you have answers then we are ready to be hang till death in the public.

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