ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Court has directed the Sindh government to tackle a growing influx of Taliban in Karachi to bring peace back, the security agencies have informed the ministry of interior about the presence of at least 25 al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked militant groups which have infiltrated the port city and turned it into a battlefield between the law enforcement agencies and the miscreants. The apex court had directed the police and other law-enforcement agencies in Sindh to “take all possible measures to meet the challenge posed due to immigration of Taliban who are armed with sophisticated weapons”.
The MQM leadership, which is quite vocal in its criticism of the TTP’s ideology and its activities, insists that Karachi has become a hub of violence and atrocities mainly due to the influx of thousands of Taliban militants from the tribal areas into Karachi, where finding shelter seems to be quite an easy task.
While looking into the rising incidents of killings in Karachi, the Supreme Court has ordered the Sindh police chief to submit a report on the mass infiltration of Taliban militants.
According to well-placed circles in the security establishment, they have informed the ministry of interior about the presence of at least 25 key al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked jehadi groups which are mainly responsible for the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi. Many of these groups are operating in the form of smaller cells in a bid to dodge the law enforcement agencies. These cells are often so small and so strewn that they are only discovered when law enforcement agencies arrest their members.
The 25 key al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked militant groups which have literally taken hostage the port city of Karachi include five factions of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) - Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al Alami, Qari Zafar group, Qari Shakeel group, Akram Lahori group and Farooq Bengali group. Then there are three factions of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which are active in Karachi – Commander Waliur Rehman group (from South Waziristan), Badr Mansoor group (from North Waziristan) and Mullah Fazlullah group (from Swat). The remaining jehadi-cum sectarian groups in Karachi include Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP), Sunni Tehrik (ST), Daawat-e-Islami (DeI), Harkatul Mujahideen (HuM), Harkatul Mujahideen Al Alami (HUMA), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Jamaatul Furqaan (JuF), Harkatul Jehadul Islami (HuJI), Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), Jundallah, Tehrik-e-Islami Lashkar-e-Muhammadi (TILM), Lashkar-e-Islami (LeI), Mehdi Militia (MM), Hezbollah, Kharooj, Tawheed Brigade (TB), Al Mukhtar Group, Punjabi Mujahideen etc.
Most of these groups in Karachi, which has a large Pashtun populace, generate funds by indulging in kidnappings for ransom, bank robberies, street crimes and extortion. Another revenue source for them is the heroine trade, with the drug being exported to foreign countries via Karachi.
On August 24, 2009, some LeJ and TTP terrorists who were arrested in Karachi had confessed to exporting heroine to countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, China, UAE, Europe and the US. They further disclosed that money from the sale of heroine was being channelled to some Taliban commanders in Balochistan and to the family members of arrested militants.
These groups repeatedly denied, in their statements, indulgence of their activists in criminal or smuggling activities of any kind. They said such charges were leveled to defame their Jihad. They said whatever they did they owned it. They said they just appeal for donations and receive the same from the faithfuls.
The prime reason for the influx of the Taliban elements into Karachi is believed to be the military operations in the Waziristan and Swat regions as well as the killing of key Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders in drone attacks, which prompted thousands of jehadis to flee to Karachi and settle on its outskirts.
As the Taliban elements have brought their war to the streets of Karachi, leaders and activists of the Pashtun-dominated Awami National Party (ANP) seem to be their prime target. Most of the areas in Karachi where the Taliban have established their stronghold were earlier considered to be the domain of the ANP. The killing of an MQM leader in Hyderabad was not claimed by Taliban. Generally Taliban make claim when they kill their opponents.
Some of the known localities in Karachi which are under the control of the Taliban elements now include Sohrab Goth, Baldia Town, Quaid Abad, Shireen Jinnah Colony, New Karachi Industrial Area, Sultanabad, Mangho Peer, Sarjani Town, Qasba Colony, Shah Faisal Colony, Shah Latif Town and Peer Abad.
In a bid to further demoralise the ANP sympathisers in Karachi, the Waliur Rehman faction of the TTP had publicly threatened to kill those Pushtuns from the Mehsud tribe who do not leave the Awami National Party. One of their subsequent victims was Saeed Ahmed Khan, the Karachi district president of the ANP, who was killed in an attack on his house in the Metroville area of SITE Town on January 5, 2012.
Similarly, militants belonging to Mullah Fazlullah faction of the TTP’s Swat chapter have already killed dozens of elders and political figures of Swat who had migrated to Karachi, including Sher Ali Khan, a former ANP parliamentarian who was head of the Swat Qaumi Ittehad. He was shot dead in the Frontier Colony area of Karachi on June 18, 2012. His death was blamed on Ibne Aqeel and Sher Mohammad, two most wanted members of Mullah Fazlullah’s death squad from Swat who are settled in Karachi, which hosts the largest concentration of Afghans outside Afghanistan.