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February 21, 2015

Media’s role ‘negative’ in portraying Karachi violent city


February 21, 2015

Speakers at a gathering on Friday criticised the negative role of the local and international media in portraying the Karachi violence and said it damaged Pakistan’s economy.
Those who spoke at the Alhamra Arts Council on the first day of the Lahore Literary Festival included Laurent Gayer, Aakar Patel and Naresh Fernandes, writers from India, Jean Lambert, a European Parliament member from London, and Muneza Naqvi while Khalid Ahmed was the moderator.
“At the global level, Karachi is not considered a violent city at all,” said Gayer who has written a book on Karachi. He told the audience in a packed hall that the United States had 60 most violent cities of the world. The crime in Karachi went down rapidly in the last few months after the police and rangers went after gangsters firmly, he said, adding that Karachi was defined by its diversity.
Speaking about Lyari which was called the mother of Karachi, Gayer recalled that the Baloch working class observed its first strike in the area after forming a labour union between 1920 and 1930 that introduced class-based politics. Later, these people patronised by certain notable figures armed themselves to gain political control of the area. He said the PPP, later, patronised Lyari people, which led to the situation we were seeing these days.
“The PPP certainly has links with Lyari gangs which were diminished a bit in the last few years, but Bilawal Bhutto Zardari now wanted to re-focus on Lyari as he wanted to promote his political career from this very area”, Gayer said, adding that for the past decade or so, ethnic and sectarian issues had also risen in Karachi, which were troubling the law-enforcement agencies.
Responding to a question, Gayer said the MQM would definitely suffer an irreparable loss if sooner or later Altaf Hussain went off the scene. “The Rabita Committee of the MQM has no authority at all as all powers rest with the MQM chief and if anything happens to him, it

will have far-reaching effects on the party.”
Both Patel and Fernandes were convinced that Karachi and Mumbai were alike, but former was more violent. “We have not that kind of violence which is rampant in Karachi”, Patel said. They even claimed that the underworld in the Indian port city of Mumbai driven by Muslim gangsters had been wiped out in the 1990s.
Similarly, according to Lambert, anti-Semitic thoughts are causing a major problem in the big cities of Europe vis-à-vis security.
She said young Muslims, in reaction to happenings in Gaza, were attacking Jews. She said the Europeans had the same perception about the Muslims as they considered all Muslims extremists and terrorists, which was wrong. Such thoughts also existed in the UK, but the authorities handled them very well, she said. Naqvi said there was an enormous influx of migrants into Karachi after Partition. That was why it kept growing. She said the city of 18 to 20 million people always thrived on wars and its prosperity came from the fact that it was a supply city during the British-Afghan war. She also talked about her recent novel - A Matter of Detail - about the Jewish community of Karachi.
Earlier, during his opening remarks, Ahmed highlighted different aspects which forced people to migrate to big cities. The high-level migration, he said, caused chaos, crime and violence which ultimately created gangs. Yet, he added, the romance for big cities went on as the big cities didn’t die.
Talking to The News after the gathering, Gayer said land grabbing, electoral politics, extortion and ethnic issues had caused a major blow to the City of Lights.
Lambert, talking to The News, said a strong local government system, good governance and an improved revenue system would help Pakistan maintain law and order in Karachi.
Talking about her first visit to Lahore, the member of the EU Parliament said: “I was feeling a bit scary before being into Lahore, but now I’m happy that things went very well here.”

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