Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Karachi Riots = London Riots ?


We may be absolute fools when comparing the two of these... as Karachi has been through much more than what Londoners have seen...Yet it would rather be wise to recall the initial days of riots in Karachi, especially in 1986, which changed the city and its future forever.

Karachi : pre-1986:

Before this year, I remember my friends in other cities, jokingly called Karachi youth lazy, dumb, only interested in fashion, VCRs, movies and entertainment.

These riots/ burning/ looting which erupted in Karachi in 1986, left us all with no choice but to come out and defend our streets and communities. ( Note: Nobody knew about MQM then. Later people found it as a saviour. Many of our neighours joined it too..)

How it all started?

Anybody who was there in 1986, can never forget the incident of the death of Bushra Zaidi (a student who died in a road accident by a van), which, later, led the most of Karachi towards chaos. Students from nearby colleges and offices came out to protest for her killing.

It was almost the same time, when the police decided to raid Sohrab Goth, a market famous for drug sales. Ultimately, the drug dealers/ mafia, as previously announced by them, punished the whole city by spilling out from there, torching whatever came in their way.

That very day is still fresh in my memory, when I reached home with my friends after walking several kilometers, as there was no traffic on the roads. After a few hours I heard firing and sirens of ambulances.

I went up to the roof of my house, and all I could see was the smoke rising from various places in my vicinity. It was unbelievably horrible scene for someone who grew up in such a lively city playing and enjoying childhood in the open parks and grounds. First time, I heard many people reciting Holy verses of Quran and Azan loudly from their roof tops. They were shouting and telling everyone to be alert as the danger was near just in the next block.

How the rioters looked like and what stopped them ?

As it was expected, the rioters came in two trucks, having lathis/ batons in their hands, shouting as they were going for a battle. The people in our neighbouhood had instructed their ladies to stay indoors or on roofs. We were told to collect stones on our roofs in case they raided our houses. These attackers were believed to have been jumping inside the houses and creating mayhem.

Many of us tried calling police, even with the help of some influential officials/ministers. Police had nothing to say except that they were helpless, as there were many areas being attacked at the same time.

I remember, in my block of FB Area, only one retired army officer had a pistol. He immediately fired at the rioters, as they entered our locality which made them to step back. This one shot stopped them and they started running back to their trucks.

The Outcome:

Since then, many of us learnt a lesson that we had to defend ourselves. No wonder, after this nightmare, people started contributing to buy more bullets/ (or any thing which could serve as a small weapon) for future security.

One thing is for sure... after this incident, the lazy, dumb image of Karachiites was changed forever...

Still that VCR / relaxing / peaceful pre-1986 period seems like a dream now.

Still I miss that Karachi.


Are there any lessons for us in history? Can we learn something from it?


  1. Your words are like fire if someone can feel so.Personally i loved the article and words you portrayed the real picture of our Karachi which transformed during 80's just because of few people's political game.

    I wish and pray and brightened future of Karachi Ameen.
    Pakistan Zindabad

  2. true......we were never accepted by pakistan....even after giving so much sacrifices.....and yes that is how karachi is and will continue to defend itself

  3. Usman, this blog never meant to start thinking negatively... Actually, it should make us to realise where we lacked. We lacked understanding, planning and controlling. Things continued from being bad to worse. Still the problems can be addressed if proper dealt with sincerity and strictly.

  4. Just be fair ....very fair..and let know all who attacked from sohrab goth ? aren't they the one known today under ANP ? Be fair as in who has been target of in justice in this country... :)

    its harsh but its true

  5. I still remember that day... I was what 8-9 woke up and found our home packed with college girls (lived 2 mins walk from Sir Syed College where Bushra Zaidi was killed), found out they were from Sir Syued College and were running away from the tear gas that was being shot at them by police, from that day onwards curfew and riots became an every day occurence.

  6. The city bleeds more and more, with each passing day, there is no use of pinpointing at a few people. Its the negligence and incapability on part of authorities. They never learnt any lesson, for what was to come... and poor residents still suffering.

  7. Hmmm this is the good part :) can u be blunt about the "HAQEEEQAT"

  8. A savage truth of the supremacy this nation has long suffered