Monday, December 1, 2008


The rumor is that Karachi is up in flames because of some MQM-Pathan tussle over land around some new expressway.

The rumor is that the police, which has received shoot to kill orders from Sindh's Interior Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, is standing by as activists of political parties shoot people down in front of them.

The rumor is that this was all planned well ahead of time, with months of hysterical talk about Talibanization of Karachi, which sought to blur the distinction between Pathans and the Taliban.

The rumor is that Pathan students from some college in Karachi were asked to leave. When they didn't people put Elfi super glue in their eyes, ears and noses.

The rumor is that there are people out for blood slicing ears off people of other ethnicities for no reason other than, well, their ethnicity.

The rumor is that some men broke into an Urdu-speaking colony – Raees Amrohvi Colony in Orangi – entered a house and shot everyone inside.

These are all rumors, unverified stories that are spreading like wildfire across the terrorized city while our glorious media is busily giving us a minute by minute run through of what happened in Mumbai five days back. The best that the media can give us about what is happening in our own backyard is the following:

"Members of two ethnic communities [notice how the ethnic communities are not even named] went on a rampage and attacked each other." Dawn (01/12/2008)

The Daily Times talks repeatedly and vaguely about "miscreants" wreaking havoc in the city in yesterday's paper regurgitating the rumors that are circulating in the city.

From all this it would seem that, much like in some B-grade horror flick, an entire city has suddenly lost its mind and is going around mindlessly killing each other. Any kind of insight into why the riots started, who is behind it and why the law-enforcement agencies are unable to stop it is apparently too much to expect from both the government and the media.

Meanwhile, there are more rumors about why mum is currently the word. The rumor is that the media is terrified of the MQM. That after the MQM censored Geo twice over the past month or so, it has decided to not stick its neck out.

The rumor is that since most of the big media outlets' head offices are in Karachi, they prefer not to piss the MQM off.

The rumor is that the MQM made certain that another episode of May 12-like heroic reporting would not occur and that the ransacking of Aaj's office is still too fresh in the media heads' minds to offer more incisive reporting.

The rumor is that the troubles are in such out of the way areas of Karachi – Orangi, Sohrab Goth, Banaras etc – that for cameramen to go out there would be like going into Fata. Therefore, the TV coverage of the riots is also minimal.

In the meantime, the death toll climbs up each day, as violence collects more half-lived lives.

In the meantime, as rumors and bloodthirsty rioters overrun the streets of Karachi, we, the ever-stoic and ever-ignored people of Karachi, stay quietly in our homes hoping for yet another crisis to quickly loosen its grip on our beloved yet battered city so that we may pick up our lives again and guiltily thank our stars that it wasn't our turn this time around.

No comments: