Religious vigilantism in Karachi

This happened a few weeks back but it still has the power to shake me up. It was a regular evening for me. I left work at the usual time; little did I know that I would be subject to moral policing par excellence – Taliban style – in the day light and that too in Karachi.

On my way back from work, I was waiting at signal of Hotel Crown Plaza. The driver of the taxi next to me knocked on my window, I thought there must be something wrong with the car or something so I rolled down the window and raised my eye brow in question. It was then all hell broke lose. He went ballistic, first he accused me of promoting promiscuousity by leaving home un chaperoned and then said that we, as a nation, are facing so much trouble because our women have stopped observing hijab and what not. After the initial shock and paralysis which lasted a full ten seconds, I rolled up my window and decided not to listen to his tirade.

The signal turned green and I put the car in motion but that taxi driver decided to teach me a lesson and started following me and banging my car with his hands which was very dangerous in rush hour traffic. It was then I got really scared and decided to stop by next to a traffic police constable who was manning traffic at the signal. I complained to him but he couldn’t help because the taxi driver drove on when I stopped next to the constable. He asked me to wait it out for a few minutes so I parked my car there for ten minutes. After waiting for a while, I too decided to go, but instead of taking the usual route, I took the more crowded route because I was too scared to go anywhere less crowded.

I have lived in Karachi most of my adult life, I love living here but if this is the shape of things to come, then things look very bleak.

38 Comments so far

  1. barristerakc on November 22nd, 2008 @ 9:45 pm

    could you please give me the registeration number of the taxi? taxi driver?

  2. Kashif Aziz (kashaziz) on November 22nd, 2008 @ 11:29 pm

    Thats what Altaf Bhai is warning about. Talibanization of Karachi! We should have all taxi-walas replaced by good boys of our sectors so that they don’t bang the cars with their hands.

    I have lived in Karachi most of my adult life and haven’t heard of such incident as yet.

  3. d0ct0r on November 22nd, 2008 @ 11:40 pm

    I think you wanted to use the word *promiscuity*

    Harassment against working women ..

    Reminds me of another female KMB blogger and her ordeal ..

  4. zeeshan on November 22nd, 2008 @ 11:41 pm

    We should beat the CRAP out of that tabliban bastard!

  5. ڈفرستان کا ڈفر (duffer) on November 23rd, 2008 @ 12:17 am

    i am not against teachings of Islam
    but imposing of ignorance in the name of Islam by these so called talibans, is totally unacceptable.

  6. burhaan on November 23rd, 2008 @ 12:55 am

    whoa! never heard of this sort of incident. those losers need to be taught a lesson.
    btw, what sort of mini skirt you said you were wearing ?

  7. papakhan on November 23rd, 2008 @ 1:58 am

    some of my friends had the shopkeeper in the liberty metro in lahore rant out similar stuff at them. the old generation is just frustrated and dont appreciate the change the next generation brings with it.
    you were scared, any one might be, but at the same time we have heard stories of women in karachi actually taking the fight up in traffic situations, so thats not an impossibility. but its just a clash of ideas, it will take some time to settle down.

  8. human01 on November 23rd, 2008 @ 9:33 am

    I might be a little old fashioned or conservative or un-enlightened one but do want to add my two cents here. If you talk about hijab in Islam, it’s a must do thing, no argument about it. Although how to define hijab, is a debatable issue. I have seen Muslim girls in US & Canada wearing Hijab/Scarf & doing every thing (work related) a normal working women do. They don’t have any problem with that.
    In my opinion, we have this issue because of ignorance (as mentioned by "duffer") on both sides….One extreme thinks Hijab is no less then wearing Shuttlecock Burka from head to toe ……..the other extreme seems no issues wearing skinny Jeans & see through shirts (just an example…no offence intended). The thing that I always say is where the hell is our mediocrity…what happen to our decent, classy ladies who used to go to colleges, universities & offices with chadar, Scarves or dupatta’s at least. That’s the real problem……we have a new breed of two poles………..with ever widening gaps.
    Events like this are just a precursor to what is coming forth, lack of tolerance, ignorance (both kind) & lack of respect will get us in a bigger mess that we are already in….

  9. human01 on November 23rd, 2008 @ 9:58 am

    The Dungar Doc is either a retard or so blind in his hatered that he is even trying to connect this incident with Uzi’s.
    Seriously, you got to seek some help dude……….soon!

  10. fusa on November 23rd, 2008 @ 11:40 am

    agreeing with human01, society these days is somewhat divided into tiers, those who want to be very strict and impose Islam, those who care lesser by the day regarding the religion they were born in and lastly those who take a bit of both and keep going on with their lives………..what the taxi guy did was the action of the first tier, I’m guessing i could but the author of the initial post in the third tier……………people I’ve lived in Karachi for most of my life, and yes this is something that i have not come across……….i hope the writer also never encounters this again but think again……… Karachi being really talibanised ? or is this just one example of the view of a tier of the population that made it to the web?? i have not been in Pakistan for a few years but my ties to the people there have been stronger than ever since i moved out…….thing we did under wraps i have come to see have come bluntly come out in the open……believe me i have my share of parties in Karachi which were under a good enough wrap but as of late they are all out in the open……..if this rhetoric of talibanisation does not stop soon enough we may see more and things going up a notch

  11. odin on November 23rd, 2008 @ 3:00 pm

    @kashif aziz

    hahah exactly, quaide fasaad was a cabby in chicago and he loves this profession and he knows very well that only his matric fail lundas can keep this great profession thriving.

  12. nizro on November 23rd, 2008 @ 4:48 pm

    Propaganda people, Propaganda. How can we say that he is telling the truth.

    or maybe the taxi wala was working for Altaf Bhai to promote HIS talibanization.

    Anything is possible in this country.

  13. Tariq Khanani (tariqkhanani) on November 23rd, 2008 @ 4:56 pm

    did i miss something or did the taxi driver did say he was taliban?
    why are we jumping to conclusions so quickly?

  14. cyrenity on November 23rd, 2008 @ 6:26 pm

    @author, you should have noted down the taxi number atleast.

    also, you mentioned "Taliban Style", i would really like to know how much and what you know about "Taliban Style", eye witnessed? Heard stories about their style from any taliban folks?

    3rd, I totally agree with human01


    could you please give me the registeration number of the taxi? taxi driver?

    you calling taxi driver for registration number :-)?

    btw, what you going to do with registration number?

  15. barristerakc on November 23rd, 2008 @ 7:17 pm

    Talibanization is basically an ideology which needs to be damned and those who practices it are nothing less then fitly scrums…rouges, religious goons which needs to be hanged publicly and unskined!

    Excuse me for the abusive (it would be my first on KMB)

    @cyrenity….exactly what your father should have done when you “happened”….it’s not hard to guess you half brain bastard!

  16. human01 on November 23rd, 2008 @ 10:48 pm

    @cyrenity…!….you have quite an imagination…
    ….btw mind your language please, this forum has not been rated (R18) yet….or does it?

    @Dungar Doc….you certainly have some serious personal issues with Barrister and MQM….I wonder if you keep progressing in this direction, the time is not far when you’ll be serving time for hate crimes…

  17. cotbeen on November 23rd, 2008 @ 11:06 pm

    This is also an alarming situation that a taxi driver Harassing a working women. But What is more alarming is the secret activities of Taliban Elements in the City.
    One of my buddy asked me to read the October issue of Herald and i am totally dumb reading the investigative reports which reveal the involvement of Extremist and Militant in a series of crimes in Karachi.
    The report shows the presence of a very strong communication network of criminals from here to FATA, and describe how they transmit huge amount of money from Karachi to the leaders of these Militants.

  18. human01 on November 23rd, 2008 @ 11:30 pm

    Barrister Bro, I concur most of your arguments but I have a little disagreement with this one, Taliban is an ideology, true but the solution you propose, I would disagree with that… my view, both the extremes (Talibans & liberals/enlightened ones) are both equally responsible for the present situation. In a sick way…they both are working together to co-exist, flourish & strengthen each other. If you look closely, you would find all the rationale & reasons to become a hardliner or a modern westernized Muslim in their actions. We see imposing Islam as ditto as used to be in early times & neglecting the basic rules of Ijma & compatibility with modern times and on the other hands we see extreme disrespect & disregard of basic Islamic values & ideologies. These two extreme behaviors provides the reason for their existence & unless we deal with both of them with great consciousness & care……the confrontation is going to stay for a long time to come.

  19. khaled90 on November 24th, 2008 @ 2:03 am

    @ Tazeen
    So now you believe what Altaf Hussain is saying is right ??

    Get prepared as these talibans are in karachi and when they started their campaign against Karachiites we will kick them out of this city including supporters of talibans like doc teeth and company.

  20. hbrehman on November 24th, 2008 @ 3:16 am

    i would hate to see taliban taking over….and im kind of relieved to know that people like mqm can protect us if something like that happens… i still dont support mqm in any way… and i just hope they dont abuse their power and punish innocent people… therez too much hatred …. this is going to get way out of hand…

  21. barristerakc on November 24th, 2008 @ 8:17 am


    Meray pyaray bhai “humun01” – sorry I do not know your name…

    I agree with your points largely.

    There are different definitions of Talibanization although the Talibanization of Pakistan started right back with the introduction of Objectives Resolution when declaring that no law in Pakistan would be made against Islamic beliefs, the constituent assembly gave religious establishment the monopoly over legislative discourse and then we have this new wave of Talibanziation post 9/11 ….

    Talibanization is where the jurisdiction of religion is “enforced” on every walk of life, from legislation to education and from sports to personal conduct of private citizens and anyone
    so janab basically it’s an idealogy cum desease (cancer) which needs to be knifed out.

    Anything enforced with a capital “A” is not Acceptable. I do not brand myself as a “liberal” nor I am an apolgist for them – I think there should be a line between, modernaity and bhagarati but then I do not have the right to enforce my idealogy on others – do I?

    Liberal Militancy is a reactionary force against what I call, “Nawaiwaqt” genaration and Talibanized forces although unfortunate but very much needed to counter the born-again wannabe Saladins.

    So, we can live up to the lofty ideals and still preserve the basic values of secularism, individual rights, and all the usual freedoms, without sacrificing the underlying supremacy of God and the foundation of Islam. We just need to define “ISLAM“ much more positively than those who have hijacked the good ship. :)

  22. sceptic on November 24th, 2008 @ 6:22 pm

    That’s exact how it started in Islamabad in 2006 and 2007. When the Talibs from now infamous madrassas started challenging women driving cars or walking about for not adhering to a dress code that perhaps suits the cave-dwellers of the past. That vigilante-ism never took a step back. Initially, the Talibanic onslaught was ignored as an isolated phenomenon but it did not take long to have armed bearded terrorists, in the holy company of a manipulated burqa-posh brigade, raiding peoples’ houses to impose their weird “moral” standards.

    It is always women who are the first target of a Talibanic movement as nothing threatens the hold of a superstitious barbaric ideology like an economically independent and socially confident woman. A woman in street is symbol of the failure of the chauvinistic movements. This Talibanic violent ideology starts with jailing women in their homes, and relentlessly continues to do so until toppled. Their religious fervour somehow conveniently ignores a focus on the economic uplifting poor, the development infrastructure to create employment, ensuring justice, reforming policing and government administration, but it is the few hair on the head of women that is deemed as the biggest threat to humanity.

    The taxi-driver in question here may not be a paid-up member of a religio-fanatic organization but his actions (under the influence of this delinquent and perverse ideology) were utterly and clearly Talibanic. It is the intentions and actions that count, not their bona fides in relation to their actual membership. Talibanism is a state of mind, brought about by a lethal mix of an unceasing indoctrination from the pulpit and receptive, unquestioning minds.

    One more thing. the apologists for the public religiosity at this blog must stop equating secular liberals with fanatical Talibans. Secular liberals don’t kill others or even don’t believe in employing violence to enforce their way of thinking. The religio-fanatics, on the contrary, are imbibed with such a righteous passion that they have no qualms in blowing themselves up and many others to impose their heavenly-sanctioned “correct and only” version.

    Karachi-dwellers must unite against the Talibanization of the city for the sake of freedom and humanity.

    No, I do not belong to MQM. Neither am I a Urdu-speaker nor a Karachi-ite. But I like your spirit of tolerance and liberty.

  23. see_it_as_it_is (knownow) on November 24th, 2008 @ 6:48 pm

    This is a despicable act by a deranged man who has taken his role in life a bit too far. Religion is not defined by individuals for others. Besides, this is less to do with religion per se, and more to do with a madness that is using religion.

    Any rational person has to be categorically opposed to such acts of insanity.

    Yes, there is also a case of a faction of the society that has gone completely overboard with their lack of morals. However, the interplay of these irresponsible oppositions should not make the responsible citizen’s life a mess.

    We have, as a society, to understand though that one, we evolve and second, we evolve collectively. We are not separate from each other. Humanity is one entity. The society experiments with its own growth, and that is how it is. Even "average citizens" are overly concerned with crime & punishment and regulating other people. The regressive craziness and the out-of-bounds irresponsibility are both the outcomes of the society’s failure to evolve collectively and to have a healthy mindset.

    I agree in general with what Sceptic and Barristerakc have stated: which is a clear-cut opposition to an act of rogue madness.

  24. see_it_as_it_is (knownow) on November 24th, 2008 @ 6:50 pm

    What I meant to say above is that:
    Even "average citizens" are overly concerned with crime & punishment and regulating other people – and that is not healthy. It is repressive, and it drives people to extremes.

  25. نعمان کی ڈائری - » رجسٹریشن، طالبان، پختون، اور کراچی کا مستقبل (pingback) on November 24th, 2008 @ 11:17 pm

    […] کراچی کی بلاگر تزین کو دن دھاڑے کسی طالبان بھائی نے اسلام کے نام پر ہراساں کیا۔ کراچی کے اکثر لوگوں کو شمالی علاقہ جات، صوبہ سرحد […]

  26. concerned on November 25th, 2008 @ 12:18 am

    Things are getting worse day by day and its clearly becuase of the influx of Jahil Pakhtoons coming into the city.

    Now you can do two things, stay home and let things go on like they are. Or you can do something about it.

    Tazeen, can you please put forward this story in the form of a letter to the editor to the bigger news papers or can our reporter friends put this in papers. People need to know about these things.

    I am still waiting for Doctor to turn this into MQM fault. Come on boy, be creative.

  27. d0ct0r on November 25th, 2008 @ 1:26 am

    concerned I guess you missed my comment. Third one from the top. I referred to a blog post by another female KMB blogger who was harassed while working, by a violent and aggressive gun touting goon from MQM.

  28. d0ct0r on November 25th, 2008 @ 1:32 am

    Secondly in another comment i said that this excited and rowdy taxi driver was just stalking the author(Hijab was just a pretext) . There must be countless instances daily in which rowdy teenagers(and adults too) are involved in staring and stalking (working) women and some of them insist to give them lift to drop them home. 95% of them don’t fit the profile of a taliban. Now what would you call them? Enlightened Talibans?

  29. kaami on November 25th, 2008 @ 1:48 am

    Alas! SCEPTIC is here read his post, he is the man. I second him and have nothing to add.

  30. khaled90 on November 25th, 2008 @ 3:09 am

    Doctor should change his name from Doctor to Taliban

  31. barristerakc on November 25th, 2008 @ 10:41 am

    the female bloger doctor is point to is Urooj Zia – a member of a communist party and a member of Peoples Resistance – Dr.Awab Alvi’s NGO…so much for her credibility (with due respect to her) :P

  32. concerned on November 25th, 2008 @ 6:50 pm

    @ Doctor

    Sorry I missed you comment, i was in a hurry.

    But come one dude, this isnt a good comparison, ur comparing a reporter going through a checkpoint to a normal girl driving on the road. Even in this comparison Urooj seems to have gone through with much more ease then the Tazeen. As it is Urooj’s story was exagerated in an attempt to make it more emotional.

    How abt we compare Tazeen’s story to the other side, I am sure you have heard about the story involving a GSK ladies Van which disappeared on 27/12 or how about wht happened to some factory girls in Korangi on 27/12. (I would rather not type the details please)

    You mind telling me who’s the lesser evil, MQM who barely checked a press pass on 12/5 or the people who carried out the atrocities stated above.

    And please dont go off on a tangent here, just reply to specific question on women’s right.

    To avoid you making a post I will state what you say now.You will probably bring up a much publicised picture of fight in CDGK assembly where an MQM representative is holding a chapal in front of a woman and I will refer you to incident in the sindh assembly where MQM MPAs were harrased on the first day.

    Also if you cant think of anything, make it up. Havent heard some thing totally ridiculous from you in a long time.

    @Sceptic, nicely said. Talibanisation is something that needs to be addressed and the only way to do it, i am sorry to say is to keep the Pakhtoons in check.

    Some Pakhtoons as you may have heard were also responsible for a number of bank breakins and robberies. After which they fled to NWFP never to be heard from again. People have to face the facts, the Pakhtoons might be nice people to talk and to be friends with but some bad eggs spoil it for the whole pakhtoon nation. It might be in their interest to keep this all in check.

  33. monkey on November 28th, 2008 @ 3:02 pm

    In complete agreement with sceptic. S/he has very very correctly pointed out two of the things I noticed while going through the post and the comments.
    Talibanisation seems to center on curtailing women only. Why is it that issues that concern the whole of humanity – men and women – be tackled? Why always is a woman’s "dress code" the problem? They are just sick.
    Also, I second what sceptic said about secular liberals and making them seem like a mirror image of the radical talibans. Violence and violation are a very big deal, they are not just two words that separate the ideologies of the two groups.

  34. zeeshan on November 28th, 2008 @ 7:32 pm

    hbrehman on November 24th, 2008 @ 3:16 am
    i would hate to see taliban taking over….and im kind of relieved to know that people like mqm can protect us if something like that happens… i still dont support mqm in any way… and i just hope they dont abuse their power and punish innocent people… therez too much hatred …. this is going to get way out of hand…

    That’s not fair!! You hope MQM will take care of all the mess and wlll be there to protect you. After they are done with it, you don’t even have the moral to support them? To support the people who will die to protect you? That’s not fair and totally biased. If you do not support MQM then go protect yourself but if you have hoped of protection by MQM, the LEAST you can do is support them and not climb up their ass every time they do something good for you and your families here!

  35. barristerakc on November 29th, 2008 @ 9:38 am

    wah, zeeshan! jeetay raho…

  36. srhasan on November 30th, 2008 @ 12:01 am

    @ sceptic,

    Kudos to you for writing so boldly and effectively. I agree 100% and could not have said it any better.

  37. anjaanay on December 1st, 2008 @ 1:31 pm

    agreed zeeshan well said

    mtlab prhay to MQM yaad a gai ….

  38. Skirt Service Blog (unregistered) on November 20th, 2010 @ 9:57 am

    Adult Abt Wrap Skirt…

    […] ffic at the signal. I complained to him but he couldn’t help because the taxi […]…

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