On Tuesday the forces of terror and hatred set their eyes on a new target: Karachi’s Bohra community. Amid the evening hustle and bustle, Tuesday saw two bomb explosions, both at the same spot, in a Bohra area in North Nazimabad. The bomb was planted just a few hundred metres from the area’s Bohri Jamaat Khaana and many were returning from prayers at the time of the first blast. So far, six of the seven dead in both blasts belong to the Bohra community. The twin blasts were, perhaps, the first targeted attack against the community and came just one day after the visit to Karachi of Syedi Mufaddal Bhaisaheb Saifuddin, the designated successor to the office of Da’i al-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohras. The Bohra community was abuzz with activity and excitement over the visit and a large number of the community’s members from across the country and India were visiting Karachi for the occasion.
Indeed, is the Bohra community – numbering half a million – going to become the next big target of religious terrorists and, if yes, do the powers that be even care? The second half of the question is easy to answer. The extent to which Karachi is in the grips of violent crisis is evident from the fact that Tuesday also saw thirteen other people dead, including three Muttahida Qaumi Movement activists, a Jamaat-e-Islami activist, a deputy district officer education, and an officer of the Federal Investigation Agency. Turf wars between political parties; sectarianism and factional infighting; clashes between land and extortion mafias; deep mistrust among ethnic groups; easy access to illicit weapons and misuse of arms licenses – Karachi has all the makings of disaster. Violence enabled and perpetrated by criminal gangs affiliated with parties across the political spectrum has for decades manifested itself in abductions for ransom, target killings and ethnic cleansing, arson, street crimes, damage to property and infrastructure, and capital flight. Now we can also add to this deadly mix growing sectarian violence. There should be no doubt, then, that Karachi is turning into what a Supreme Court judgment from last year called “a threat to the very stability of Pakistan.” The police remain crippled by political appointments and low numbers, and even senior security officials privately admit they are in no position to fully enforce the law. So what should one expect?