6th September, 2011
Assist News Service
Karachi is an economic hub, seaport, and the largest city in Pakistan, as well as the capital of the province of Sindh.
The city, which has an estimated population of 13 to 15 million, while the total metropolitan area has a population of over 18 million, is home to a variety of people of different religions and ethnicity, and was once called 'a city of peace and lights'.
But, for the last few years, the crime rate has been mounting with every passing day and over the past six months, due to various kinds of crimes, thousands of innocent people have been killed.
"Karachi is burning. In last six months, over two thousand innocents have been killed in target killings. Street crimes, kidnapping for ransom, robbery, land grabbing and many other server crimes are on rise."
- Atif Jamil Paagan, a Christian leader and central Chairman of Pakistan Minorities Democratic Movement (PMDM)
The Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Mutihida Qumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP), are the main parties in the Sindh Assembly.
However, there is no let-up in violence and killings and all three parties are blaming each other, but still violence is growing. The writ of the local government is no more in the city and non-state actors are gaining power.
Pakistanis are worried about what is going on in this economic capital. The army busy is fighting against terrorism, while the government is struggling to eradicate poverty, resolve the power crises when electricity goes out for hours at a time, and improve social services.
However, the ethnic, sectarian and street crimes are occurring.
Finally, Christians, opposition parties, civil society and Islamic religious groups are raising voice to find ways to stop killings in Karachi.
One is Atif Jamil Paagan, a Christian leader and central Chairman of Pakistan Minorities Democratic Movement (PMDM), has now given a nationwide call during a rally at the Lahore Press Club to the people of religious minorities to march peacefully demanding to "restore peace" in Karachi to "save Pakistan" on September 03, 2011.
Addressing the rally, Mr Paagan said: "Karachi is burning. In last six months, over two thousand innocents have been killed in target killings. Street crimes, kidnapping for ransom, robbery, land grabbing and many other server crimes are on rise.
"The key players in the legislative assemblies are part of the government and besides the 'blame game' nothing is happening. Karachi a backbone of the country and Pakistan's economy is at stake. The bloodshed is on rise and Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and the Mutihida Qaumi Movement (MQM) are not serious. Former Home minister, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, has given the details of people involved in Karachi violence but the government is silent and making no progress to stop violence.."
He went on to say: "Today Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Dalits appeal the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan to take urgent action to stop the killings of innocents in Karachi and restore peace. Reconciliation and peace is very important for the prosperity of Pakistan."
Rasheed Jalal, District, president of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) for the minorities wing said: "Religious minorities sometimes feel that their sufferings are bigger than others, such as persecution for their faith, violence, denial of basic rights to Christians and other religious minorities.
"Many who are arriving in Lahore from far flung areas during heavy rains, Christians and other religious minorities have shown that despite all of these issues, they express solidarity with their countrymen/women at a time when they are being killed"
The call at the gathering was well responded to by the religious communities of Hindus, Dalits, Sikhs, civil society members, and Islamic peace building groups.
The rally began at the Railways Servant Quarters and ended up at the Lahore Press Club. The demonstrators were holding the flags of PMDM and carrying cards demanding the government to stop debating non-issues and restore lasting peace in Karachi.
An ANS-Pakistan team covered the whole program at which Munir Mall, a worker with PMDM and the organizer of what was called the 'Karachi Peace rally' told ANS, "The rally is a message to the government and anti-state elements that Christians and other religious minorities are well aware of the problems of the country and cannot remained silent. Today, hundreds of people, including men, women, children who belongs to different faiths, are demanding with one voice, 'We want peace in Karachi.'"
Minorities have dedicated 11th September, 2011, a day of prayer to express solidarity with people of Karachi. Special peace prayers are to be said in churches, temples and other houses of worship and candles will be lit in memory of what were called the "Karachi martyrs."
The demonstrators raised slogans such as, "We want Peace in Karachi," "Save Karachi," "Save the nation," "May peace be in Karachi," "May peace be in Pakistan," "Long live Pakistan," "Pakistani minorities are the sons and daughters of the soil," as well as many others.
ANS observed a big national media attending the event including print and electronic were present to cover this great initiative of the Christians of Pakistan. The leading newspaper, including DAWN, Express Tribune, The Frontier Post, Jang Group and others, highlighted the PMDM rally on their main pages.