Karachi bloodshed threatens havoc for Pakistan

KARACHI, August 29, 2011 (AFP) – Murder gangs rooted in Karachi’s boiling cauldron of ethnic politics are waging a savage fight for power and space in Pakistan’s financial capital, threatening to destabilise the entire country. At one of Karachi’s overflowing morgues, Amir Ali, clutching a photograph of his missing brother on his wedding day, searches for him along a grim line of bodies, only their bloodied faces uncovered.

Yellow dockets tucked into tape that bind the corpses detail the horrific torture they suffered before their bodies were dumped in sacks on the street.

“We’ve tried the hospitals, the police stations and now the morgue,” said Ali, a 45-year-old stonemason, who fears his brother was kidnapped despite his lack of any political affiliation. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

More than 1,000 people have been killed in Karachi this year — 100 in the past week alone — as drug, land, gun and extortion mafias linked to ethnically based political parties threaten to plunge the huge city into urban anarchy.

At stake is more than the welfare of the city’s 18 million inhabitants because Karachi, gateway to the Arabian Sea, provides the bulk of the democratically fragile country’s income.