Lyari: A Perpetual War Zone in Karachi

It’s been a long time (more than ten years) since I visited the Lyari area of Karachi, although I used to pass through it daily right up to 1998.

In the last decade, gangsters have taken over the district and almost every day gang wars take place in which people are killed. But then, I thought, there are people who live there and still manage to survive. So I tried to trace a few residents of Lyari whom I knew back in the nineties, and was shocked to find that they had all left the area and settled in other areas of Karachi. One of them was a soap manufacturer whose premises had been forcibly taken over by gangsters. Another had to leave because he couldn’t survive without paying fifty thousand rupees a month to security guards for protection. A third, who had a warehouse in Lyari, sold all his goods because he could not endure the threats of criminals who told him they would kill him if he didn’t hand over the property to them. One industrialist was forced to pay a hundred thousand rupees a month to extortionists of a political party, until he found a courageous buyer for his factory.

And, I wasn’t at all surprised to find that almost all criminals of Lyari (like the late Rehman Dakait) have the backing of the PPP, the party whose members think they have a mandate to loot the country. They have turned Lyari into a perpetual war zone.

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