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Lyari out of control


 According to media reports, 20 people, including 10 women and children, lost their lives when members of a gang attacked the main market area of Lyari. Women and children were busy shopping when gunmen attacked the area. The recent failed operation in the heart of the city has raised several questions. Only days ago, the government's own minister accepted that the city has more weapons than the lawless tribal areas and that some groups in the city are taking bribes of weapons to provide cover to NATO supply trucks.Despite a one-week long siege and the loss of several lives, security forces were still unable to clear Lyari of gangsters and kill or capture any wanted criminals. Criminal elements in the area also have support from different political parties. Lyari is situated in the heart of Karachi and its congested, narrow roads do not allow armoured police vehicles to move freely. The cost of the Lyari operation was very high; due to the closure of all the markets in the area, people lost millions of rupees in revenue. All schools and education centres remained closed.

Due to the heavy fighting, Lyari's population of 1.5 million was besieged in their homes and spent one week without electricity, water and sanitation facilities. Several families migrated to other areas of the city. The police also lost several personnel, armoured vehicles and their reputation. Lyari is a stronghold of Pakistan's former ruling party, the PPP. Despite trust in the party, Lyari is still one of the poorest areas of the city. Aid packages announced by the present government have not changed the fortunes of Lyari's people. Unemployment is very high and, with the rising prices of basic commodities, poor people find it hard to provide daily necessities to their families. Now Lyari is a hub for drug smuggling, often under the protection of officials. Many unemployed youths join these gangs, resisting armed police operations.

KHAWAJA UMER FAROOQ
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
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