VICE Guide to Karachi: Riding with a Killer (Part 5/5)

Uploaded by vice on Jun 4, 2012


SUROOSH ALVI: In Karachi, politics is a contact sport,
and members of Pakistan's dozens of political parties
have been known to put more trust in
bullets than in ballots.
Mob violence, bombings, and assassinations are sadly par
for the course here.
And while political leaders are often targeted, the rank
and file suffer the consequences, too.
We are driving into the ANP stronghold.
It's the Awami National Party.
On this side is the ANP.
On this side is the MQM stronghold.
And apparently, they have a lot of beef, because they
shoot each other.
We met up with Hamza Khan, one of the local
leaders of the ANP.
The ANP are the largest party representing Pashtuns, the
Pashto-speaking ethnic group concentrated in Pakistan and
He took us out onto the main road.
This corridor often turns into a kind of shooting gallery
between these two rival groups, as evidenced by the
bullet holes throughout the neighborhood.
And why aren't you worried that people won't
shoot at us right now?

MALE SPEAKER: Maybe we should go up, then,
as soon as we can.
Maybe we should make our way to the top.

SUROOSH ALVI: Allah is with us.
We'll be OK, Insha'Allah.

From the high vantage point, not only could we see the line
that separates these two neighborhoods, but we could
finally see what they were so often fighting for--
That is, the lack of it.
Land is the most precious commodity in Karachi, a city
that has grown exponentially in recent decades.
So while Pakistani politics are often organized around
ethnic or interest groups, in Karachi, what most of those
groups want is more land.

SUROOSH ALVI: The MQM is a party that was founded to
represent the Urdu-speaking Muslims whose families
migrated to Pakistan from India.
We headed to the heavily barricaded neighborhood that's
home to MQM headquarters.
The neighborhood was plastered with images of the MQM's
charismatic leader, Altaf Hussain.
This one is awesome, by the way.
It looks like all album covers.
That's his psychedelic era.
MALE SPEAKER: Look at him over here, he's into iris.
SUROOSH ALVI: This one, he's trying to go for the Che
Guevara vibe.
SUROOSH ALVI: Because he fears assassination, Hussain
communicates with his followers via Skype from his
home in London.
So instead, we met with the Minister for Youth Affairs,
Faisal Sabzwari.

We were in the kind ANP neighborhood yesterday--
Kati Pahari-- and they don't like the MQM
too much over there.
They accuse MQM of terrorism.
FAISAL SABZWARI: The issue with ANP in Karachi has been
that some thugs and goons have been
running the show in Karachi.
Extortion, kidnapping for ransom, drug money--
that's what some people under the flag of
ANP have been doing.
SUROOSH ALVI: You can call them thugs and goons, but I
think MQM, also, people are intimidated by, because there
are thugs and goons on your side as well.
FAISAL SABZWARI: No, I reject that idea as well.
We have no such kind of a group of people yet.
SUROOSH ALVI: There's no military or--
There are areas.
If you have visited Kati Pahari, people in those
particular areas are forced to carry out.
Because we are living amongst those fanatics, amongst those
people who have no respect to human life, whose politics is
only commercialized interest.
SUROOSH ALVI: So the short version of all this is that
people are getting killed in Karachi every day.
There's gang violence, tons of mafia, sectarian killings, and
in more recent years, suicide bombings.
For the political parties, it's a massive turf war.
And while politicians and businessmen would never admit
that they engage in assassinating their rivals,
someone is hiring the so-called target killers.
We wanted to interview one of the men responsible for this
dirty work, so we arranged a meeting with a target killer.
It was uncomfortable for everyone involved.
We negotiated the terms of the interview--
in a moving car and with his motorcycle helmet on.
And not surprisingly, the guy who kills people for money, he
wanted to get paid.


SUROOSH ALVI: It's been at my feet the whole time.


SUROOSH ALVI: Thank you.

That was--

That was really strange, sitting next to someone who's
killed 35 people.
And you could just tell from his demeanor and from his eyes
he was a hard dude.
And there's 600 guys like that roaming around this city.
Anytime anyone has beef to settle with someone else, they
want to kill them, just hire one of these guys, don't pay
them much money, and they'll do the work.
It's lawless, wild, and chaotic here.
And that is some scary shit.

And on a lighter note, two thieves got shot and killed.
They're going to go pick the bodies up, and they've
inviting us to go along.
One thing had become clear on this trip--
there's no shortage of murder and mayhem in Karachi.
Between the gangs and the cops and the politicians and the
target killers, this was definitely one of the craziest
cities in the world.
But that's coming from me.
I asked the ambulance driver, a native Karachiite, how he'd
describe the city.

SUROOSH ALVI: And that's when I realized it was time to go--
SUROOSH ALVI: --that if we didn't quit while we were
ahead, we'd just wind up on some hamster wheel of violence
and corruption until we, too were dead--
SUROOSH ALVI: --just another statistic in the most
gangster-ific city in Pakistan.