In yet another targeted killing, the general secretary Karachi of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jummat (ASWJ) was gunned down in the Shershah area of Karachi. The episode is not new. Recent years have seen a rising number of ASWJ leaders targeted and killed, alongside the policemen that make up their security detail. There are two ways to look at this problem. One: let the killings continue unabated. This, admittedly, is a rather crass point, and one which will no doubt be offensive to the many liberal, democratic elements within the country. Two: remove all state security, expose the organisation for what it really is, try the leaders and get them off the streets through due process of law. Of course, only one of these points is the more realistic scenario.

In both scenarios, it is important to note that the ASWJ is a terrorist organisation and is the re-emergence of the Sipah-i-Sihaba, a violent sectarian extremist group. In that sense, there are many in the country who will argue that it is all a matter of plain good riddance. The bad guys are killing the bad guys, and the state can let it play out. Which brings one to the next question: who exactly is doing the killing? The most predictable culprits would be shia sectarian groups, but none have claimed any responsibility. Rumours of course, also point to more sinister elements within the state structure but there is no coherency on who is to blame. This lack of clarity is suspicious in itself. High profile targeted killings of leaders with terrorism links are taking place in Pakistan’s urban centers, and nobody wants to take any credit for them. It leads one to believe that like all things, a bit of politics might just be at the heart of the mystery. For now, it is safe to assume that the state will do little or nothing to change the status quo, though the security of its own police officers should be at the top of its priority list and the government is advised to act accordingly.