Capturing Karachi

Like nationalist political parties the world over, those in Karachi have come to understand the power that can come from a fear-based agenda. Their bogey: 'Talibanisation'.

Could the Taliban capture Karachi? Talk to a spectrum of people on the streets of the city today, and almost everyone actively rejects such a supposition. "I don't think it's going to happen," says Syed Ali Atif Ghazali, a student at the University of Karachi. "Karachi is not a valley like Swat or a backward area like Wana, surrounded by mountains. It's a metropolitan with a well-developed infrastructure of law-enforcement agencies, with liberal political parties at their back." His view is fairly representative. Indeed, in some the question even brings out a bit of frustration that such a question should be posed in the first place. "I haven't seen any Taliban around here," says Amunuddin, a banker, "and every person with a long beard is not a Taliban." Says Rehmat, who runs a tea stall: "If you think that Pashtuns will support the Taliban in Karachi, you are wrong, my friend. If they really want to support them, then why did Peshawar reject the Taliban? During the 2008 polls, not a single seat went to any religious party in Peshawar."

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Himal Southasian