Qasba Colony and Aligarh Colony tragedy
By Shahnawaz Sheikh
Last week I attended the 25th death anniversary of one of my relative who was brutally murdered during the violent incident happened to the residents of a remote place named, Qasba and Aligarh Colony in Karachi on 14-Dec-1986. It really was a massacre.
The background of this massacre was so astonishing. It started from an administrative order issued from the federal government to initiate an operation against the drug barons, land encroachers and criminal elements who were lying at Al-Asif Square Sohrab Goth, Karachi, which is an illegal encroached area by Afghan migrants since 1980 and is infamously known as a drugs and arms market. The area had become the main hub for the sale / purchase of illegally imported goods including drugs, weapons and stolen items. On 12-Dec-1986, the law enforcement agencies started a clean-up operation in the area. The operation was resisted by the Afghan migrants and Pashtuns, who exchanged fire with the personnel of law enforcement agencies, in which a number of law enforcement personnel suffered death and injuries. The operation against the “mafia” turned into ethnic clashes. Meanwhile, the law enforcement agencies patrolled the tensed areas of the city and were deployed in almost every area for any reaction from the Pashtuns – Afghan criminals. The Qasba and Aligarh Colony were also high tension areas and troops were also deployed over there.
The localities of Qasba and Aligarh are located within Karachi limits and is populated by mainly poor and lower middle class descendants of founders of Pakistan living side by side by Pashtuns who inhabit the nearby mountainous areas. Such Afghan migrants have settled in this area during the Afghan-Soviet War. They were backed by a political party (originated in Mardan, NWFP with strong links to the Afghanistan) which provides the political cover to the criminal Afghan migrants on Pashtun Nationalism basis.
The morning of 14-Dec-1986, was tragic eternal, dreadful and horrendous. The personnels of law enforcement agencies deployed at Qasba and Aligarh colonies were mysteriously pulled-out when heavily armed racial terrorists went on mass killing rampage in the said locality for more than six hours. They came from nearby mountains and began killing every person they could find without discrimination of whether it was man, woman, elderly person or child. They viciously tortured, raped and killed hundreds of innocent descendants of founders of Pakistan on the basis of their ethnicity. Many of the victims were women, children and elderly people. Several bodies were later found to be mutilated. Various victims who were inflicted grave wounds were found moaning near heap of the stacked bodies. The properties of the victims were looted and burnt down.
“The racial terrorists of identical ethnicity came inside our houses and killed indiscriminately with knifes and guns chanting Allah-o-Akbar as if we were infidels”, said one survivor. He further added that “astonishingly, the mosques were used to mobilize people to kill and speeches and sermons were given against the people living in Qasba and Aligarh by pseudo Mullahs”.
During the massacre, the victims witnessed no intervention from any law enforcement agencies. The families of victims assert that the said armed racial terrorists were granted free hand to commit the worst massacre in the history of Pakistan suffered by the innocent descendants of founders of Pakistan. Not even one culprit has either been arrested or convicted. The families of victims also assert that the clean-up operation in Al-Asif Square, Sohrab Goth had been buried in the official files. Now Al-Asif Square, Sohrab Goth has become the safe heaven for the mafias and during the last twenty-five years no government had taken serious measures to provide impartial justice to the victims.
A victim namely Majid aged about 57 years said, “we have not only suffered the massacre in 1986, but it continues even today.” He added that “in the month of July 2011 the history of massacre was repeated again and unfortunately it continued for five days, during which more than a hundred men, women and children of Urdu speaking community were killed”. He further added that “during the said five days, the law enforcement agencies acted as spectators. However, after five days of continued massacre, the higher military leadership intervened and forced the provincial government to restore law and orders situation. In consequence to such intervention, the Rangers were directed by the provincial government to do what was required to stop the massacre”.
A bearded father of a victim, aged about 73 years, full of tears said, “We, the descendants of founders of Pakistan have witnessed biased attitude from the ruling elite since last 64 years.” He added that “We have been forced to think that the struggle of our elders for an independence Muslim country was a mistake.” He further added that “Justice (Retired) Sajjad Ali Shah, the former Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan wrote the inquiry report or the fact finding report, in which he criticized the army and administration of the province and governor’s role and further clearly wrote that it is the worst kind of massacre I had ever witnessed, where women, children and men from Mohajir community were slaughtered by illegal immigrants.” He further said that “the report of fact finding mission was ignored by the establishment because the people who were killed were not Sons of the Soil”.
The families of the victims said that no political or religious party remembered the martyrs of the said massacre except Muttahida Qaumi Movement. The founder of MQM Altaf Hussain always pays glowing tribute to the martyrs of the tragedy and says that their blood would bring a revolutionary change in the country.
Recently the PPP – led government had initiated reopening of the judicial murder case of their founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto which was also a grave injustice to the people of this country, similarly the families of the victims appeal the President Asif Ali Zardari, the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry to conduct a high level inquiry into the said massacre and simultaneously constitute a judicial commission to bring the perpetrators and their abettors to book and provide justice to the victims.
–The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org