The shooting of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader, Rashid Godil, and the panic that gripped Karachi as a result, harks back to much more restive period of city’s history, when political leaders were open targets and gun totting ‘unidentified men’ roamed the streets with impunity. It certainly does not fit with the narrative built over the recent months, which claims that the Ranger’s operation has successfully driven criminal elements underground. Of course, an isolated incident cannot be used as to declare the operation a failure, but it does provide us ample reason to examine its efficacy so far.

On a relative scale, the operation can be termed a successful one – a sentiment that is echoed by the residents of Karachi and its civil society members. The violence that gripped Karachi has lost its absolute terror; sectarian attacks – though still present – are fewer than before, target killings are a rarity, and the overall crime rate has gone down too. The persistent political and gang wars that stunted daily life are also losing intensity – which is precisely why the attack on Rashid Godil seems inexplicable. The MQM is a party on the decline; the leadership is in legal trouble, the workers are being arrested on suspicion of criminal association, and most importantly, its vast public support in the metropolis is slowly becoming disillusioned with the erratic leadership. As a consequence the party is walking on carful steps, lest it draw the attention of the Rangers. Targeting its leaders seems counter intuitive, and the unanimous political condemnation of the act reasserts this notion.

If the operation has successfully dealt with other indices of crime and violence, then the attack on Rashid Godil reveals an area they have ignored. More effort goes into nabbing politicians than it goes into protecting them from harm, especially MQM politicians. While it is true that most of these politicians have dark and dirty secrets, it in no way implies that they are not worthy of protection and should be written off. It may not seem it, but politics is not just about personal power. Many of these men perform important duties and tasks. Once politicians are taken down there will be no messiah waiting in the wings to make everything perfect – only more politicians in the same mould.