Launch Military Operations Against Mafias of MQM, PPP, ANP, PML-Q, PML-
Karachi Crime Gangs Protected By Politicians
By Tom Hussain
Karachi, Pakistan, 25 May 2009 (The National) - Criminal gangs with
links to key political parties are terrorising the residents of
Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, according to officials and victims.
The most powerful is the so-called "Land Mafia", who take over
commercial plots, government land and even people's homes, the
The land mafiosi - who work out of legal fronts such as building,
contracting and real estate businesses - derive their strength from
political parties with constituencies in Karachi and other parts of
southern Sindh province such as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM),
the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the Awami National Party (ANP) and
the Quaid [PML-Q] and Functional [PML-F] factions of the [Pakistan]
Muslim League [PML].
"The Land Mafia is so powerful that it can overthrow the government by
buying politicians and officials", said a judge of the Sindh High
Court, who has heard many land dispute cases, speaking on condition of
Usually the Mafia's intention is to rob people of their property, a
typical method being to establish a fake dispute in which the official
land record is falsified so that the litigants - both members of the
Mafia - present fake documentary evidence of ownership of an empty
residence they have paid shanty dwellers to occupy.
"The real owner finds himself excluded from the litigation and unable
to mount a serious legal challenge, because it can only be heard after
the fake dispute is resolved", the judge said, meaning that the real
owners could wait for years before they get a chance to claim for
This unlawful occupation of homes has created a lucrative business for
some sons of political families, who buy the property with its illegal
tenants for a fraction of the home's value.
One such budding politician, who asked not to be named, was recently
on a job in Karachi's upmarket Defence Housing Society, managed by the
military. An expatriate family based in the United States were being
extorted by their "tenants" to part with their home for a quarter of
its market value.
After a meeting over tea, the young politician magnanimously turned
down the desperate couple's offer of 30 percent, saying it would be
"unfair" to take any more than half the property's value.
A deal having been struck, he jumped in his sport utility vehicle and
drove home to pick up four private guards, each bearing an AK-47
assault rifle, and headed to the disputed property.
After the land gangs, gun runners occupy the next rung on Karachi's
criminal ladder. They differ from the Land Mafia in that most are
allegedly ranking members of the city's dominant political parties
[MQM, PPP, ANP, PML-Q, PML-F], according to officials.
"They are armed to the teeth and with far better weaponry than the
police. That's why political violence flares up in a matter of minutes
in Karachi", said another judge who also sought anonymity.
Police officials said the most powerful gunrunners had access to
specialised urban warfare weaponry, including rocket grenade
launchers, laser-sighted automatic weapons with armour-piercing
bullets and phosphorus grenades - the latter having notoriously been
used two years ago in an attack on the Tahir Plaza, a building next to
the city courts.
While the phosphorus grenade attack of May 2007 was targeting lawyers
protesting against the sacking of Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the
since-reinstated Chief Justice of Pakistan, the illegal weapons trade
usually feeds ethnic tensions between Karachi's dominant "Mohajir"
community of migrants from India represented by the MQM and the
smaller Pakhtoon and Baloch communities, represented respectively by
the ANP and PPP.
The almost unrestricted flow of weaponry has for three decades
rendered many districts of the city no-go areas for the [Sindh]
police, a senior officer in the police said.
Arguably the most dangerous is Lyari, a Baloch-dominated, impoverished
district that has been taken over by the Narcotics Mafia, allegedly
led by Rehman "Dakait" whose assumed surname literally means
"bandit" [robber, thief, or dakoo].
Having allegedly slain his way to the Lyari drugs throne, he has
developed close relations with the PPP, which considers Lyari a safe
parliamentary constituency that has in the past been represented by
[evil Satanist] Asif Ali Zardari, now the [PPP] President of
Mr. Rehman [Dakait], who was last year acquitted on 28 murder charges
after witnesses refused to testify, now sits on the district peace
committee, which was involved in negotiating an end to recent
outbreaks of violence.
He operates independently of the land and gun mafias, but is often
involved in conflicts with them, police said.
They pointed to armed clashes in Lyari on April 28  as an
example. An ethnic Mohajir builder had begun construction of a
commercial building when gangsters alleged to be working for Mr.
Rehman [Dakait] turned up demanding "protection" money. Confident of
protection from a powerful Land Mafia armed by gunrunners, he rejected
their demands, according to police and residents in the area.
"Ten minutes later, all the construction machinery and workers were
gone - taken by Mr. Rehman's people. Then Land Mafia people,
announcing their MQM connections, arrived and all hell broke loose",
said one resident, an ethnic Pashtun who asked not be identified.
Eleven people were killed and two-dozen wounded in the ensuing 24-hour
gun battle, police said.
With ethnic tensions sparking frequent outbursts of violence in
Karachi, police and judicial officers said the provincial [Sindh PPP-
MQM] government was reluctant to take any action that could exacerbate
the security situation.
Police living in Lyari and other no-go areas said they travelled to
and from their homes in civilian clothing to avoid being targeted by
"It is too dangerous for us to patrol the areas. We would only go into
an area like Lyari in armoured personnel carriers and that too with
support from the Rangers [a paramilitary armed force]", said one
senior police officer.
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