The Gun Hoarders


The Muttahida Quomi Movement (MQM) keeps haemorrhaging a steady stream of guns - and none of this makes for good publicity. Law enforcement agencies have seized yet another cache of arms in Karachi, this time in the Azizabad sector of the city, and have linked them to key political figures from the party. The seizures seem to be getting more frequent, and the allegation made by the law enforcement afterwards more stringent, but when it comes to legal action against the alleged perpetrators, there seems to be very little activity.

The same day the police seized a cache of “unimagined size” in Aziziabad, the Rangers claimed to have detained a suspect allegedly belonging to the “Indian spying agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) linked” Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London and seized a large number of arms and huge quantity ammunition. A spokesperson of the Paramilitary group said after the arrest, “the arms cache was hidden to carry out killings at the behest of the MQM-London leadership.” This is a serious and a quite specific allegation, which requires some form of other evidence to corroborate. All of this cannot be assumed from just a recovery of weapons, and if there are some other indication that this allegation was true, it should have been presented to the media while making the claim.

Yet it seems the Rangers and the police - who claim that the cache that they seized was bought by key politicians - are content with statements they have made. It hasn’t been indicated if the weapons seized were bought illegally - which is the only scenario in which these seizures are relevant, as almost every politician in Pakistan owns a sizeable quantity of guns - nor have these ‘key politicians’ been named. When we look at the previous seizures from the city, the pattern is repeated; weapons are seized from the MQM, the party is named and shamed by the law enforcement agencies, and the mantle of vilification is taken up by media thereafter, but no notable party member is arrested, or even charged with a crime despite these spectacular raids that have been made.

The Rangers’ latest claims are stereotypical and emblematic of the forces at play here. The MQM has a violence in its past - as does many parts of Karachi - and possession if illegal weapons is a crime, but the law enforcement needs to make these seizures more than a media event.

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