Excerpt of the day
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Excerpt of the day

This is drawn from Nichola Khan’s Mohajir Militancy in Pakistan: Violence and transformation in the Karachi conflict. This passage is concerned with the similarities and differences between the MQM and JI, and as someone who’s always banging on about the need for more analysis of our parties and their structures, I thought I would highlight it.


JI and MQM are similarly structured and well-matched rivals. JI’s organisational base is constituted of tiers of loosely affiliated supporters (hami), workers (karkun), friends (rafiq), candidates for membership (umidvar-i-rukniyat) and members (arkan) (Nasr 1994). Both parties have a leader, a central organisation committee, working committees, sector leaders, people in charge of central departments and a stalwart activist vanguard deeply rooted in Karachi’s Mohajir communities. Regarding the distribution of power, in JI only members can occupy official positions, most members are elected and their advancement depends on their degree of ideological conformity. In MQM power is devolved in a top-down process to small groups at the street level, orders issued by the leadership without consultation. The excellent organisational structure in both parties means members can be swiftly mobilised. Whilst both are Mohajir parties, JI commands a different social base. In Karachi, JI’s membership is concentrated amongst the educated, Urdu-speaking middle classes in the middle- and lower-middle-class parts of Federal B and C areas, Nazimabad, North Karachi, Gulshan-q-Iqbal and Liaquatabad and PIB Colony in Central Karachi. After the mid-1980s, some neighborhoods in these regions, for example Liaquatabad, Federal B area, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Korangi, Orangi, Burns Road, North Karachi, Nazimabad, Shah Faisal colony, Landhi and Karadar seceded to MQM. The parts of Nazimabad, Federal B and C areas and North Karachi which were retained as JI bastions were less affected by poverty, harsh conditions and unemployment.

By the way, you may or may not consider this as an advertisement for the book, but the first couple of pages features a first-person account by “Arshad”, an MQM worker, of killing a pregnant woman by stabbing her in the stomach and then slicing her head off and putting it on top of her fridge. Ostensibly to “send a message to MQM’s enemies”.