Karachi Joins Chaos With Commerce in Taliban Urban Front

“You’ve got other cities where the problem is of crime or criminal gangs taking over parts of the city like Rio de Janeiro,” said Sakib Sherani, chief executive officer at Macroeconomic Insights, an Islamabad-based research firm. “But Karachi is unique because it represents a failure of the state, where the state has initially ceded to organized crime and now it has ceded to armed militias.”

In the mountains near the Afghan frontier, former Pakistan soldier Abdullah Chachar could take clean shots at Taliban militants. Now a policeman in Karachi, he worries about bystanders getting in the way.

“We have to be careful when we open fire,” said Chachar, 41, who joined the force in February after three years on the border. “Because of the buildings and general public, Karachi is a more dangerous place than the tribal areas to fight.”

Karachi, one of the fastest-growing megacities on the planet, is becoming a new front in Pakistan’s war on terror as the Taliban moves to the streets from the mountains. Mixed with poverty, gangs and political violence, the insurgency makes the metropolis an extreme case of the chaos and commerce that coexist in some of the developing world’s growing urban centers.


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