May 12, 2007, is one of the darkest days of Karachi’s history. On this day, the main arteries of the megalopolis had turned into a battleground, where members of different political parties carried out carnage in broad day light.
48 people were butchered and around 150 others were wounded. Law enforcers were mere spectators or hiding somewhere. Containers were placed on main roads to block the rally in support of the deposed chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry. Supporter of the dictator, the then president general (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was face to face against the opposition parties — Pakistan Peoples Party, Awami National Party, Jamaat e Islami, Pakistan Muslim League-N and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party. The opposition parties supported the lawyers’ movement to reinstate the judiciary.
Later in an interview with a TV channel, MQM leader Farooq Sattar had revealed that the MQM was supporting Musharraf under a deal between the founder of the party and the then president. The MQM was ruling the provincial capital at that time.
Haughty Waseem Akhtar, the then provincial home minister, played a key role in the May 12 tragedy and indeed has many questions to answer. MQM has blamed the other parties for starting the chaos.
Whatever the role MQM played, yet riots ensued in Karachi on whim of Musharraf as he did not want Iftikhar Chaudhry to enter the city. He is blamed for instigating the violence.
What escalated tension between judiciary and military ruler
Conflict between the government and judiciary had escalated after the latter tried to seek “independence” from the former. The judiciary demanded from the security and intelligence agencies to produce the missing persons. Musharraf had suspended Chaudhry as the top judge of the Supreme Court. Following which, the deposed CJ had launched a campaign for his reinstatement. He had called his suspension a “thinly veiled assault on the independence of judiciary in Pakistan”.
On May 12, 2007: activists of opposition political parties began violence when the deposed chief justice was detained at the lounge of the Karachi airport all the day and was forced to fly back to Lahore without attending the public gathering.
Scores of people including political leaders were apprehended for the carnage. Later, many of them got bails, however, families of the May 12 violence victims still await justice despite the passage of 13 years to the incident.