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Mission Creep: Pakistani military’s crackdown on Karachi

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

International news agency, Reuters, has come out with a revealing report disclosing the advancement of Pakistan military towards the largest city, Karachi as a ‘creeping coup’.

The latest and, some say, the boldest attempt, made by the military towards capturing control from the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) in the port city of Karachi, is being seen as renewed foray into the civilian life of the country.

The campaign is being spearheaded by the head of Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Rizwan Akhtar.

Remarking on the ongoing takeover and the perpetrated attack on the MQM party, an official close to the ISI chief said, “There is a quiet, creeping takeover of Karachi by the military. Karachi is just too big … too much land, too much business, resources. No one party will be allowed to rule Karachi from now on.”

The military clampdown on the largest and wealthiest city of Pakistan began in 2013 when a spate of murders took place with the disfigured bodies being dumped in the alleys.

While officially the operation was aimed at eliminating criminals and militants, most people see it as a planned attack on MQM.

Straddling and stamping over MQM and weakening the grip of exiled leader, Altaf Hussain, over the party would ensure an easy playfield for parties close to the military, such as Imran Khan-led Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

Moreover, with the introduction of military courts to tighten stranglehold over the judiciary, foreign policy and national security, the military is trying to leverage Pakistan’s economic hub.

Karachi hosts the stock exchange, a giant port, central bank and accounts for more than half of the national revenues of Pakistan.

However, Pakistan army’s hawkish movements can prove to be counterproductive, particularly by making tougher and harder proposed rapprochement with India.

The army accuses the MQM of heinous crimes such as targeted killings, kidnappings and racketeering in Karachi.

According to the police estimates, more than 2,500 hundred murders took place in the city in 2013.

Even as the army levels allegations against the party, the MQM vehemently denies the charges saying that it has cooperated with the rangers in the past but will not allow the army to dismantle the party.

Meanwhile, senior government officials say that the civilian administration has been sidelined in Karachi and decisions are being taken by the Rangers and the chief military commander of the Sindh province.

As per the officials, the government was not consulted while lodging the complaint against Hussain and initiating the raid.

MQM’s leaders, on their part, blame the military for unfairly targeting them by launching a campaign of mass arrests and political “disappearances.”

At least 36 MQM workers have been killed so far and more than 2600 arrested.

The military, however, wants to completely annihilate the “militant” party.

All would be well if only the exiled leader, Altaf Hussain, steps down. An official close to the army said, “If Altaf Hussain steps down, the MQM will live on; if he doesn’t, the party will go down with him.”

A senior MQM leader, who did not want to criticize Hussain openly said, “We have built this party with our sweat and blood. Now a man living in exile is intent on destroying it.”

Irrespective of the critical opinions and the army onslaught, the by-elections in Karachi on Thursday handed down a comfortable victory for the MQM party.

In the wake of such conflicting developments, Hussain remains defiant saying, “The people and Altaf Hussain have a special relationship which cannot be shaken.”

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The Hindu Temple of Gulyana and Sikh Samadhi in Pakistan

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Gulyana, Pakistan

By: Wali Imran (Hindu Council of Australia)

900 years old Gulyana town of about a 50,000 people, just a few kilometers South of Gujar Khan, was raised to the ground once several centuries ago, by raiders from the West. The second time it was destroyed during the 1947 partition riots.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Before 1947, the Gulyana town center was mostly Hindu and Sikh. The Hindus and Sikh owned all the businesses in the town center and Muslims were their tenants, peasants and laborers. Muslims sold their lands to pay off their debts and also handed over their crop of wheat. The Dewan, Dutt, Mohyal Brahmin, and Singh families were always part of royal elite.

Bollywood Star Sanjay Dutt is from the same branch of warrior Brahmin Dutt and belongs to the same place.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Land owners were guaranteed protection from military’s presence in Gujar Khan from the North and a rivulet from the south. This land produced sheer gold and wealthy Sikhs and Hindus lived like kings in mansions make of stone, several storey high.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Bakshi Tek Chand, Dewan Prithvi Chand Dutt, Bakshi Moti Ram and Tara Singh were the dominant names of those times.  They built temples, dug up wells for the 30-50 kanal holdings each and distributed these lands amongst their permanent serfs. They did however, treat their serfs with respect and gave them a good share of the crop — what do you expect from absentee landlords.

Gulyana, Pakistan

The Sikh had a timber business. Logs from Kashmir valley were dumped into Jhelum River and recovered downstream near Jhelum city to be sold at Gujar Khan.

The Hindus were mostly traders, money lenders and retailers.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Muslims were mostly illiterate and poor and were destined to stay that way considering the only quality boarding school in nearby Gujar Khan had 95% non-muslim attendance.

During the 1947 riots, one Sikh Bali Singh and one Hindu Lady Banto were killed in the riots but the rest were whisked away with their gold, in the safety of Gorkha soldiers. The Muslim riot crowd burnt to the ground the several symbols of oppression and got rich in the process, during the looting.

One Hindu tehsildar had the magistrate’s powers to jail someone for 6 months.

Gulyana, Pakistan

When the British left suddenly in 1947, the carefully crafted social experiment in native subjugation came crumbling down within days.

Otherwise, one 100 years old resident of Gulyana tells me, “the Hindus and Sikh were very friendly towards the Muslims, their women played around with the boys, molvi were not trouble makers then; they cared about their serfs and neighbors’, built schools, hospitals and wells for the general public. No Muslim was allowed into their kitchen however. Balraj, Sita, Beera, Ramu Shikari, Gujrati, Peecha Singh, Mangat Singh, Jawals Singh, Raab Singh, Gurdyal, were the well-known Hindus and Labbu, Gurra, Jagdev, Santa, Paacha, Chatru were the known Sikh of the time. One Tek Chand Never left for India and embraced Islam. His wife and three sons left for India. Tek Chand married a Muslim lady and had seven children. They are all in poverty now. Several of the old mansion, one dhramsala, one temple, several bowlis (watering hole) have been lost to time.

Gulyana, Pakistan

The surrounding farms around Gulyana were refreshing. The old styled spoke wells, Sikh Samadhi, Hindu temple and 100 years old Gujarati’s mansion still survives.Gulyana, Pakistan

I went into the temple inner sanctum and saw the most beautiful frescos of mixed Hindu and Sikh religious figures like hanuman, Krishna, Sita, Baba Guru Nanak, Bala, Mardana, etc.

Gulyana, Pakistan

 

Pakistan government build a dam 5 km upstream, called the Ugahaun; it’s a lovely place to fish and boat around.

The union council in 1947 had more financial powers than it does today.

In short, all the entrepreneurs, educators, administrator, jurisprudence people, revenue people, land record people and large scale farmers left in 1947.

Gulyana, Pakistan

I am astonished how Pakistan survived with an illiterate mass of people, steeped in poverty — traumatized by exploitation and mass killings.

Other interesting places in Potohar region are:

Also Read: Protecting The World, The Hindu Way

Bedi Mahal, Pharwala fort, Malot fort, Sangini fort, Rawat fort and Mankial Stupa. (Hindu Council of Australia)