ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Political Turmoil in Karachi

Production and Reproduction of Ordered Disorder

For the past three decades, Karachi has been subjected to various forms of collective violence. The embedding of violence in Karachi's politics makes it difficult for the city's residents to even imagine a more peaceful future. This paper analyses the history of violence in Karachi, which started on the city's campuses at the end of the 1970s, before escalating in the mid-1980s after criminal groups provoked "ethnic riots" between Pathans and mohajirs. These "riots" infused a sense of insecurity among the Urdu-speaking mohajirs, which paved the way for the Mohajir Qaumi Movement's rise at the helm of city politics. Once in power, this study explains, instead of mending its violent ways, the MQM systematised a form of violent government, later on emulated by its rivals, which was meant to ensure its domination over mohajirs, as much as to counter its political adversaries.

This paper sums up the main arguments to be developed in my forthcoming book Struggle for the City: Order and Disorder in Karachi (Working Title, Hurst).

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