Gangs fighting in Karachi over drugs and patronage?

Bombs going off in Kabul today, and in Khybar agency. And signs of a major turf war in Pakistan. There are many law-abiding people in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but it is hard to envision the many internal issues getting resolved very soon. Below are some excepts from today’s Al Jazeera on the fighting in Karachi. Note that drugs are involved and political patronage. Does this imply that the drug industry in Pakistan and the political patronage system are connected?

Maybe we should be surprised, but we are not. Most of us cannot remember that there was a similar article last Aug 2, in which there was the statement:

> Over the years, criminal gangs have been used by political parties in a city-wide war for influence in Karachi, which contributes about two-third of Pakistan’s tax revenue.

Below are selected statements from the article in Al Jazeera. [click on the title for a link to the source article.] RLC

Karachi violence claims more lives: Escalating gang violence in Pakistani port city claims lives of at least 37 people in past 24 hours.

At least 37 people have been killed in Karachi in the past 24 hours in another outbreak of gang-related violence that has claimed hundreds of lives in Pakistan’s commercial capital and main port city.

… spats between rival gangs have intensified in recent weeks.

… a senior leader of Pakistan’s ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), was among those killed on Wednesday, ….

…The attacks happened as Karachi’s main party, the MQM, said it was rejoining the national PPP-led coalition government.

“Most of the killings have resulted from clashes between criminal gangs …,”.
“It’s not the kind of fighting that we saw last month; this is more of a gang war.”
But police said turf wars between gangs dealing in drugs and extortion rackets were by no means a new development in Lyari.

“These gangs regularly clash and kill members and supporters of rival groups,” ….
…. the killings were directly related to gang warfare conducted with the patronage of the country’s political elite.

Security officials say this is because the killers are being protected by senior politicians.

They say the violence is being used to stoke recently ignited ethnic passions both for political gains and as a means by criminal gangs to fight turf wars behind the facade of political activism.
“Everything boils down to politics,” said Hyder.

A city of more than 18 million, Karachi has a long history of violence, and ethnic, religious and sectarian disputes and political rows can often explode into battles engulfing entire neighbourhoods.
….

About 300 people were killed in July, making it one of the most deadliest months in almost two decades. Human rights groups say 800 have been killed since the start of the year.