Counter-Terrorism: The Holy Gangsters Of Karachi


May 20, 2010: Pakistani counter-terrorism officials are seeing thousands of Taliban and al Qaeda fleeing army operations in the traditional terror sanctuaries in Waziristan. Most of these Islamic radicals are fleeing to adjacent areas, and the soldiers and police are chasing after them. But hundreds have fled out of the tribal areas, into the more populous provinces of Punjab and Sind. While there are some Islamic terror groups in the lowlands (where 80 percent of the population is), these are not used to working with the Taliban and al Qaeda, and are often hostile to these groups. But most troubling are the Taliban who headed for Pakistan's largest city; Karachi.

A growing source of terrorist support is the Pushtun community is in Karachi. There are two million illegal residents in the city, most of them tribals, and over 100,000 of them Afghans. As police intensify their search for Islamic terrorists in Karachi, the Pushtuns there take most of the heat. This makes many of these Pushtun more inclined to aid the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists hiding in their midst. It's a no-win situation for the police, but there are not enough security forces to do it any other way. So the Islamic terrorism will continue to survive in cities like Karachi (but not in other large cities which lack such a large Pushtun population.) All Pakistanis are now aware that they are the most likely victims of Islamic terrorist attacks, not the intended targets (government officials and foreigners.)

The Islamic radicals often go to Karachi in small groups, where they form criminal gangs that sustain themselves via robbery, extortion and kidnapping. These groups also plan terror attacks, but mostly they drive up the crime rate. This has been noted by the local police, and the Karachi Pushtuns, who are often the victims. But the poverty among the poorly educated (often illiterate) Pushtuns makes them amenable to cooperating with the Taliban gangs. So far, most of the Islamic terrorism has taken place in the tribal territories, and if the Taliban and al Qaeda carry out more such attacks among the Punjabi and Sindi population, they will earn even more hostility from the non-tribal majority in Pakistan.




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