Who killed the girl saint of Karachi? By Hasan Mujtaba (translated from Urdu)

Who killed the girl saint of Karachi? By Hasan Mujtaba

(An attempted translation of an Urdu column published at Jang, Pakistan, April 30, 2015)

Mummies and Daddies, living across the Clifton Bridge of Karachi, get to know about the troubles and travails of most other citizens only when their maidservants or drivers from Baloch Colony, Liyari, or New Karachi, tell them about the misery that their own friends and acquaintances faced that day.

Or as my friend tells me, “Mummies and Daddies felt the miseries only when  a shortage of fresh vegetable occurred at Agha super market.” Only then they realized that something bad has happened in the city. In such a situation a girl like Sabeen proved that they she was a saint.

Sabeen Mahmud the saint was murdered. We cannot name the event at T2F from which she was returning when murdered. But we can say that she was returning from a ‘banned’ seminar that she arranged at T2F. A banned seminar, about a banned issue, a banned people, with banned speakers.

Sabeen Mahmud left after that banned seminar, in a tiny Suzuki car with her mother (she was not an elite that she would ride in a double cabined land cruiser with security guards). And then at a traffic light, five bullets came. It happened in Defence Society, and for the ‘believers’, the whole world is a Defence Society.

The message was loud and clear. “Anyone who would try to discuss the ‘banned issue’ and the banned people would be despatched to the hereafter”.

Let’s not utter the name of the banned uncle. But we can utter the name of our ‘atomic hero’, who is the uncle of the nation. Even if we do not take the name of a ‘banned people’, Pakistan will still be called a multi-racial state. Now a days we also hear about a “Deep Sate”.

After Sabeen’s death we also received a message that she was not murdered by Uncle Type of people.

Let’s not speculate who killed Sabeen Mahmud. Did US, Isreal, India, Taliban, or MQM killed Sabeen??? Or did Sabeen kill herself?

Was Sabeen like Razia Bhatti, who my friend Ijaz Mangi used to call  a snake charmer of truth, putting her hand in the snake- pit, every day.

Was she a child playing on the lake, who, according to a Sindhi proverb could drown any day?

Or did she use to ride on a motor bike in the well of death?

Or was she an acrobat walking on a tight rope across a large and deep lake full of alligators?

Or was she a circus girl of Karachi, who used to put her head in the mouth of a ‘tamed lion’ each night? And then one night the lion ate her. Who can now tell the lion that we smell the blood of a girl in your breath?


Was she killed because she used the eight letters from Urdu or English alphabet? If taking the name of Baluchistan and discussing its problems and misery is condemnable by death, then we should say good bye to the country and mourn for it and not just for Sabeen.

High civil and military officers say, “No it is not true, we did not kill Sabeen”. “We have better things to do.” Then they begin listing their good deeds.

But the murder of this girl across the Clifton Bridge is as high profile as that of Mir Murtaza Bhutto.

These two murder mysteries have one similarity. Curious and anxious people began naming the perpetrator in less than 24 hours. Just like they suspected the name of Murtaza Bhuttos’s killer in less time than it took the killer to shave his mustache. In Sabeen’s case, people also began naming one suspect.

We do not say who killed Sabeen, because we do not know. In a city like Karachi or even in Pakistan it is difficult to say. Because to say such things is to invite immediate death.

But we can ask:

Did the same people kill Sabeen, who killed Liaqat Ali Khan?

Did those who kill Hasan Nasir, also killed Sabeen?

It is speculated that Ayub Kirmani the information officer who leaked the news of Hasan Nasir’s death was also killed, and it was declared that he committed suicide.

Was Sabeen killed by those who killed Akbar Bugti? Or those who killed Akbar Bugti’s sister? Or those who killed Nazir Asi? Or those who killed Saleem Shahzad? Or those who burnt Maqsood Qureshi alive? Or those who fired at Hamid Mir?

An experienced crime reporting journalist in Karachi told me that, the investigators of Sabeen’s murder are very scared. For them it is an open-and-shut case. Is it a case that scares the investigators?

Someone wrote at social media that it was the murder of the “Koel” of the city.

Murder of the fan of Jimmy Hendrix, Apple Mac user, and computer geek, girl-saint of Karachi, is the murder of Karachi itself, a Karachi that refuses to be born. This is the murder of Karachi of tomorrow.

The flag bearer of free speech, who created a Hyde Park Corner in Karachi was murdered. Speech itself was murdered. Are some voices more powerful than an atom bomb that these need to be murdered? It does not happen in free societies. It is impossible to kill the spirit of freedom.

When will the uncles understand this?

Now this girl has become a character of the modern folklore. One of her friends has called her a Post Modern Hippy.

If the uncles did not kill Sabeen Mahmud, then whoever killed her has played a trick on uncles.

It is because they had the primary responsibility of protecting Sabeen Mahmud. They knew that the story of this seminar could become the noose around their necks. To protect Sabeen from T2F to her home was not as difficult as protecting a nuclear bomb. If they are not involved then they should find the culprit. They should sweep under their own bed.

They should do it before an investigating officer puffing again and again on a half smoked cigarette declares that, “it is a matter of conflict between national and foreign intelligence agencies”. Or with a foresight declares that this girl with dangerous thoughts and vision was murdered by the agents of Black Water.
She was murdered because she wanted to raise the birds and words of free speech.
Dear people, say something:

Say that it is not “safe” to write a poem like this,

Say that under this roof it is not appropriate to mention

a song, a movie, pen, or paper,

or to sip coffee.

O Karachi say that an un-armed girl,

who was telling your story,

was a danger to the powerful and mighty people.
Say that your lips are not free!

(Original in Urdu was published at http://jang.com.pk/jang/apr2015-daily/30-04-2015/col5.htm)

MQM – Urdu article published at Urdu Times, USA with its English version

My Urdu article titled MQM, published at Urdu Times USA and Canada is shared here. Its English version is also enclosed.
To click the Urdu version as PDF click the link below:

MQM Urdu Version

English version:


People of Pakistan, particularly the people belonging to the urban cities of Pakistan’s Sindh province have always been keenly interested in MQM, which has become a representative political party of urban Sindh. This interest has risen again recently, due to a very important by-election of Pakistan’s National Assembly’s constituency number 246.

This election is critical because this riding spans over Aziz Abad locality of Karachi, which is considered as the center of MQM, since its head office, and the residence of its founder Altaf Hussain, are also in this locality. It may be said that this is the area where MQM took its roots from.

Since the inception of MQM its candidates have defeated their opponents by margins of at least a hundred thousand votes in this locality. In this election MQM will face its traditional rival Jamat e Islami, and PTI the very recent entrant into Pakistan’s politics. This seat has been vacated by Nabeel Gabool who was a non-traditional representative, who did not belong to the ethnic group that is known as community whose mother tongue is Urdu, and which is traditionally known as “Muhajir”, or a community of immigrants.

The term Muhajir (immigrants) has been a controversial term in Pakistan as has been used for those who migrated from India to the geographical areas that constituted Pakistan at the partition of India. Pakistan’s citizens at large have always used this term for these people and continue to use it despite all controversies.

We must consider that even in the civilized countries including Canada, new comers have also been called as “New Immigrants”. Only in those countries where equal human rights have been established, the use if this term gradually declines, otherwise it takes a long time for these “new immigrants” to become equal citizens. And equities and inequalities against the new comers continue for several generations.

Pakistan’s Muhajirs or Immigrants have faced the same inequities and inequalities. And they have struggled against these just like the people of Baluchistan and Rural Sind have struggled. Following the social and sociological realities of any under developed and non-democratic country, it is unfortunate that Pakistan’s largest province Punjab that consists of 56 % of Pakistan, has indulged into hegemonic control of Pakistan’s economy, its resources, it politics, its armed forces, and its law enforcement institutions.

This hegemonic dominance has resulted in parochial ethnic prejudices, inequities, and inequalities. MQM came into being as result of these inequalities and prejudices.

One very sad and unfortunate example of these inequalities has been the quota system in employment, education, and other facilities, which required that “domicile holders of Karachi, Hyderabd, and other selected urban areas of Sind were not eligible for applying for employment and services”. This black and unjust system continues to prevail even today.

The “Muhajirs” of urban Sind were also punished and targeted with repression when they opposed military dictator Ayub Khan, and supported Fatima Jinnah, the sister of Pakistan’s founder.

People of Pakistan will never be able to understand MQM, unless they understand these realities. It came as a massive wave of protest against these real or perceived inequalities, and for over 30 years its candidates have been sweeping elections in urban Sind for both the provincial and national parliamentary seats. It has played the role of King Maker in Sind as well as Pakistan.

Various political parties and army dictators have relied on its support to form and sustain their governments. For the last many years the governor of Sind has been a representative of MQM. Due to this role in politics, MQM has also been accused of being a tool of the establishment.

It has not only influenced provincial and national politics, but has also been a very effective player in Karachi’s municipal politics, and has played a constructive role in developing municipal services and institutions. It has also been instrumental in maintaining ethnic and religious harmony, and has been known as a secular force that has kept the influence of religion under control in its areas of dominance.

Despite its constructive role in municipal politics and its national political influence, it has suffered because it has been under the personal and cultish influence of its founder. Over a period of time it has been accused of being involved in violence and corruption.

It is unfortunate that Pakistan’s other political parties and its establishment have similarly been involved in these non-democratic practices. Like any undemocratic country, Pakistan’s power establishment ignores these violent and corrupt practices, so long the perpetrators continue to serve its interest. Whenever such characters are seen as a threat to the power establishment, it reacts and tries to decimate them through most repressive means. It sometimes succeeds immediately or may take a longer time to eliminate such characters. All political parties of Pakistan including Muslim League, MQM, PPP, and ANP have gone through these cycles of repression of establishment at various times. MQM has been a target of violent repressions in the past like the activists in Baluchistan and rural Sind.
Due to its grave mistakes and unwise policies of its leaders, MQM has once again provided the excuses to the establishment to act against it and violently repress it. It is once against under extreme pressure. It is unfortunate that MQM participated in a constitutional amendment that gave significant powers to Pakistan’s military in the areas of law and order. As a result it is now a target of the same establishment like some other political parties.
Its founder is facing money laundering charges in UK, and party is accused of being complicit in the murder of one of its major leaders, Imran Farooq. Some observers speculate that Pakistan’s current minister of interior, who many consider as a dubious political character, is using para military forces to subjugate MQM.

The repressive action has been timed to coincide with elections mentioned above, and it is also rumored that establishment is using PTI of Imran Khan for this purpose. It is the same PTI that has recently gravely hurt Pakistan’s Parliament and Judiciary, and that has returned to Parliament after severely maligning it without even tendering an apology. The establishment has also accepted its demand that elections in Azizabad be conducted under para military forces. It is the first time that para military forces will manage a Pakistani election, that itself is dire political dishonesty.

One can opine that due to its past electoral history and experience, MQM will win this election again. It cannot be defeated through non-political means. But it will have to change its policies and practices to sustain future support.

Once the parties like, MQM, PPP, Muslim League, and ANP, win people’s hearts, it takes a very long time to eradicate their influence. It takes a long an vengeful period spanning over years to eliminate them through violent non-political and dictatorial repression. Dictatorships do not last that long and cannot sustain their repression.

A value based respectable democratic political system Pakistan will develop only when its armed forces sincerely pull themselves out of politics. Otherwise Pakistan will continue to slide towards destruction and annihilation.

MQM English Word Document