The blast in Abbas Town, Karachi, was not unparalleled, though it was a first for Karachi, already a strife-torn city, a dangerous place to live in.

If, on the one hand, they provided a reminder of the Quetta blasts and the targeting of the Shia community, they also provided a reminder that ghettoisation was no protection against the very danger it was supposed to protect against. 

If it was shown most dramatically that the government did not pay enough attention to the plight of ordinary citizens, it also showed that the forces which wanted a postponement of the elections may well be still at work.

Also, by proving Interior Minister Rehman Malik right about Karachi being the next militant target, it seems that the evil hour is upon us. Not just the citizens of Karachi, but of the whole of Pakistan; for Karachi - the country’s sole port - and its industrial and financial capital, is not just home to almost a tenth of the nation, but is connected to almost every citizen.

The MQM, through Dr Farooq Sattar, the first MQM Mayor of this megalopolis, said that the citizenry should not look to any state institution, but should engage in self-help, for protection. In other words, the MQM could be of no help.

That was a normal thing for any political party to say, but since the MQM claimed Karachi as one of its strongholds, that amounted to telling the populace that it was not to depend on the MQM for protection.

The state institutions responsible for the protection of all citizens, the police, had other fish to fry on Sunday night.

The daughter of the President’s Secretary General was getting engaged to the son of a former FIA Director. As the daughter, was herself an Adviser to the President and the son was Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Political Secretary, it was clearly a high-powered engagement.

It was attended by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, not to forget Interior Minister Rehman Malik, himself a former FIA head. These VIPs all needed security and protocol, which was duly provided, allegedly at the cost of the security provided to the Abbas Town blasts.

One of the claims of ghettoisation, that this provides security, was disproved.

Ghettos achieved the most prominence in Nazi-occupied Europe, when the state enforced them for Jews. This was not intended for the Jews’ protection, but to assist the authorities in applying the ‘Final Solution’.

Perhaps because of this, a strand of opinion opposed the creation of Israel, it was argued that collecting so many Jews into one place made for an easier target. This was shown in the Quetta blasts, where the first blast, on Alamdar Road, took place in a snooker club, not the resort of choice for committed followers of any sect of any religion, with a reasonable certainty of killing members of the targeted sect.

The MQM appeal was thus something of a nonstarter, as it had already been tried, and failed. It might not have escaped notice that while the Hazaras of Quetta, apart from being of a minority sect, were also an ethnic minority, which had migrated there and thus would tend to settle in clusters.

This might be considered to apply to Karachi as well, where the Shias are part of the Mohajir community, and had mostly arrived in Karachi by migration, either after 1947, or after 1971, when they arrived from East Pakistan, having migrated there in 1947.

It is noteworthy that an attempt has been made in Karachi on sectarian lines. This leads to the conclusion that those attempting to foment sectarian strife cannot be friends of Pakistan. Interior Minister Rehman Malik, speaking before the attacks, had accused India of fomenting trouble in Balochistan.

It would also make sense for it to target Karachi, which is economically very central to Pakistan (it was disclosed after the Abbas Town blast that the cost to the economy ran into billions). Even if sectarian strife is not set off, the disruption would be immense.

Economic opportunities have ensured that Karachi is home to all ethnicities, but the MQM dominates. The Mohajir people migrated to Sindh from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and the rest of India, at partition, but did not obtain an appropriate provincial identity.

As the constitutional scheme made provincial identity important, the MQM was forced to pursue local politics. However, Karachi was never out of the national mainstream, for it had never been merely a provincial capital.

Still, as the country’s largest city, it not only provides the most natural cover for intruders, but also the best opportunities, to the Raymond Davis-type networks that have been implanted. As the USA is intent upon making India dominant in the region, its participation in such operations cannot be ruled out.

Elections would provide a solution. However, the belief has been expressed that if they did, the last election should have produced a government which would have handled the problem.

Of the two major parties, the PPP has the most reason to have the polls postponed, particularly if a postponement was to allow the President to remain in office after his tenure ends in September.

If the PPP was to lose the election, the President would also lose the presidency, and with it the immunity of the office, which he has been using to avoid the corruption cases against him.

The Shia community in the two southern provinces have been attacked, with the result that the trauma is being felt all over the country. But this is not the first time it was under attack in Karachi. Previously, there was a more targeted approach, with the method of attack being the target killing, rather than the blast.

At that time, the targets were professionals, particularly doctors. Blasts are much more indiscriminate. In the previous episode, there was some involvement of real estate speculation, for deaths often meant that property came on the market.

Unscrupulous property dealers bought that property from grieving heirs, often enough fearful of their own fate, at rock-bottom prices. However, with the real estate market having bottomed out, this motive can, probably, be ruled out.

As the USA winds down its occupation of Afghanistan, with its withdrawal of military equipment already started, prior to a complete withdrawal in 2014, it is dangerous that there should be fresh outbreaks of violence in Karachi. This is no time to play politics, as the Interior Minister seems to be doing when he blames the Punjab government for protecting extremists.

Instead of making accusations, at the moment what is needed is to catch the culprits, try them and give them deterrent punishments. That may not stop them, for their motivation is divine reward, so the long-term approach should involve convincing them that these attacks are only going to bring down Divine punishment on the perpetrators.

There must also be trials of the perpetrators, who must be captured, which has not been done so far. So far, there have not been any such trials, and thus the real perpetrators remain undetected. Only trials would reveal not just the culprits, but also those behind them.

The writer is a veteran journalist and founding member as well as executive editor of TheNation. Email: maniazi@nation.com.pk