The understanding of what is meant by conflict can sometimes be very subjective. In this blog post I wanted to share a first-hand experience from Karachi. Despite being the industrial hub and heartbeat of Pakistan, this city has seen constant bloodshed these past few decades. With political instability and shaky law and order situations, students used to wake up to news where schools had been closed due to either protests, sit ins, strikes or rampant violence across the city due to political reasons. One could say we were accustomed to it. It started becoming normal for us, we began joking about it and taking it casually. There was a time when entire Karachi was in lockdown due to a city-wide strike and we still went out for our CIE that day completely terrified and uncertain if we could return back home safely.
To add on to the conflict, there were massive amounts of targeted killings. We would wake up everyday and find out this and this number of people have been killed. There was a time when bodies were found in rucksacks showing signs of being brutally killed. This was a normal for Karachi a decade ago.
But why haven't we discussed this as conflict? There was so much going on. Political differences, ethnic hatred, sectarian violence, ransom, and ideological clashes. It is such a diverse city that all these kinds of violence were possible. All of this was happening together. People were being caught in the middle. Normal people with no political or religious affiliations. Because it was easy to kill someone in Karachi. Shooters could be rented and anyone could be killed. While this was not explicit, it was very well showing signs of conflict. Even back in late 80's and 90's, Karachi fell into grim political violence.
Result? There were families who were left on their own to survive. There was a deep psychological impact on children who were always scared of losing a loved one. Moreover, when families lost a member on whom they were solely dependent economically, there was zero support from any authority to uplift them financially. There were and still no scholarships available to students who suddenly lost their father. If they were doing well while he was alive, now the world for them was completely upside down. Their education was in danger. There future was dark because getting out of the crisis required them to complete education when they had to figure out suddenly how to survive without income.
Somewhere in this conflict we lost a lot. We lost the safety of our city, we lost the freedom, we lost mental peace, we lost our loved ones and some of us also lost our bright future.