Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Dilemma Of Lyari

Lyari. The name has become synonymous with notoriety and violence. This is one of the few neighborhoods of the world, that has achieved fame of this level, without a PR team, without any celebrity sightings or soft white sand beaches and tourist spots. Instead it’s claim to fame has been the kind that majority of Lyari  residents would rather have done without. But in Pakistan, who cares what the majority wants. It is the need of the privileged few that always surpasses the need of the many!

Gang wars are the special of the day. Violence erupts on the street without warning and whoever falls prey is just collateral damage.  The brunt of these attacks is always borne by the innocent bystander, the man on his way to work, the child on his way to school.The government in power, which incidentally was supported overwhelmingly by the citizens of Lyari, has made a great show of raiding the area several times to clean it up but have been less than successful. The seriousness of these raids can be determined by the name given to them by the people: cosmetic raids. These so-called raids are nothing more than the government and police officials standing outside the limits of Lyari and posturing and posing in front of media and camera crews.

At one time Lyari was known for its street schools. There were more than a hundred of these schools on street corners where kids and adults were taught, for a nominal charge, by college students in their free time. Not only did this provide education but also gave the college students an income to continue their education. Now only five of these schools remain. They are not able to have regular classes because of the random eruption of violence and volunteers are few. To add insult to injury,children, some as young as five years old, are being recruited by gangs. Their toys are being replaced by handguns. There have been incidences where these children have tried to leave the gangs only to meet with unfortunate circumstances.  

It is not just the violence that is plaguing Lyari. Highly addictive substances like Gutka and Mainpuri tobacco are being sold openly despite being banned by the government. But since, in Lyari, the sellers of this cancerous poison hold the favor of the power- that-be, the ban is enforced selectively.  The only effect this ban has had in Lyari is that the price of these chewable tobaccos has doubled. Elsewhere these are sold in secrecy but in Lyari they are sold in full view and without fear.

Will the men, women and children of Lyari ever get a break or are they condemned for generations to come. They are being held hostage with no one making the commitment to save them. Rehman Malik made a joke at the expense of the very people who brought his party into power, rhyming “Katchi” with “Machi”. A statement which was neither intelligent nor funny. This is how much respect the constituents have from their leaders. It boggles the mind trying to figure out how it is possible that a government that has an entire police force at its command is unable to bring peace to a single neighborhood. A neighborhood in the heart of Karachi.  These people are the lifeblood of the ruling PPP party. Benazir Bhutto referred to them as her “ladlay” (beloved). Bilawal Bhutto, the crown prince of PPP, is slated to be the next representative of Lyari. And yet the law and order situation here rivals that of Hell! If PPP is treating their beloveds in this manner then what hope does the rest of the country have!  

1 comment:

  1. PPP is responsible for not doing anything for Lyari. They were in Govt many time but they never focus for betterment of Lyari.