Crisis in Karachi

“Karachi, Pakistan's port city which generates 70 percent of the country's revenue, is in the grip of a serious multidimensional crisis,” says Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Fellow Hassan Abbas, of the violent unrest that has gripped the city. “More than 100 people have been killed -- many of them tortured to death -- in the last week or so. Tragically, this has become a recurrent phenomenon. Criminal gangs, armed thugs associated with leading political factions, and to a limited extent religious extremists are all playing a role in this mayhem. The government's writ has almost vanished in the face of this serious situation, and the police and paramilitary Rangers are nothing more than silent spectators. A role for the military is increasingly being discussed in Pakistani media, but history has shown that military operations have not solved any crisis in the country. Rather, its involvement has almost always led to further complications. Demographic changes, increases in crime rates due to poor law enforcement, and -- most important -- ethnic tussles for depleting city resources are the issues at the heart of the problem. There are no quick and ready-made solutions for such a complex issue.”

Hassan is now based in Washington DC. To arrange an interview, contact the Asia Society communications department at 212-327-9271 or