I would like to share with you an analysis shared by a lawyer who claims that MQM deliberately started the fight and then took the battle onto the streets if Karachi
So far as I have been able to ascertain, the turmoil started around 12.00 in the Karachi Bar Association when a group of lawyers belonging to the Legal Aid Committee (an MQM-backed organisation comprising lawyers working in the CDGK, KESC and other state owned organisations) accompanied by a number of non-lawyers marched into the general body meeting of the Karachi Bar chanting slogans in favour of Musharraf and condemning the Sher Afgan incident. At this point, the lawyers of the Legal Aid Committee claimed that one of their number had been assaulted and injured by some other lawyers and chaos erupted.
Within minutes, the City Courts were cordoned off by hundreds of MQM activists who started firing at lawyers and setting fire to their vehicles. Around this time, news started coming in that the Malir Bar Association building had been burned. Then they started attacking the buildings around the City Courts (which are predominantly occupied by lawyers chambers) and set fire to them. It was clearly a pre-planned action. Lawyers’ offices and residences as far afield as Zamzama, PECHS and Gulistan-e-Jauhar were attacked.
We fear that at least 5 lawyers have been burned alive in Tahir Plaza including Altaf Abbasi, Firdous Ali and Shehryar, although there are no confirmations as yet. Our efforts to collect concrete information about deaths and injuries have been hampered by the fact that most of the office-bearers of the KBA went into hiding after former President Ifikhar Kazi’s office was fired upon and present General Secretary Naeem Qureshi’s apartment was set on fire
This meticulously planned campaign of death and destruction lends strength to our belief that the Sher Afgan incident in Lahore was orchestrated by Musharraf’s allies/agencies to discredit and subsequently crush the lawyers’ movement. Ofcourse, it has the dual advantage of blackmailing the PPP into bending backwards to accommodate MQM in their government. We hope that PPP shall resist this blackmail.
Unfortunately, the media’s role in chronicling this repeat carnage has been deeply disappointing. Some channels reported this tragedy as arising out of a fight between lawyers and even suggesting that it was unclear whether it was those lawyers or some other unidentified persons who set the buildings on fire! Others played up some sort of moral equivalence or causal relationship between the Sher Afgan/Ghulam Arbab incident and the Karachi carnage. While one could expect this kind of garbage from MQM’s militant wing, it is shocking to see TV journalists/anchors buying into this perverted viewpoint. On the one hand you have a few slaps and slippers to a couple of ex-ministers (leaving aside, for the time being, who was or was not responsible) and on the other you have 12 dead people (5 burned alive) and dozens of cars and buses set aflame. To even mention the two extremes in the same sentence (much less comparing the two and giving them equal coverage) is just shameful.
MQM’s repetition of their 12th May massacre must be chronicled in detail. We need to start this process immediately. There are two main sets of easily identifiable eyewitnesses: lawyers and reporters. Maybe we can form two teams that will focus on each group seperately.