Namaaloom Afraad


Karachi has always been on the forefront of Pakistan’s political landscape. This has been more than evident in the past few days — a lot has happened over the past few days. However the city, alongwith Sindh’s other urban city centres, are marred with one cursed reality – a handful of rogues simply called “Namaaloom Afraad” (Unknown People; that’s because neither the law enforcement agencies or the media know who these soldiers of mayhem truly are).

A press conference led by Farooq Sattar of the MQM following Imran Khan's direct allegations that the organisation is responsible for the murder of its worker.
A press conference led by Farooq Sattar of the MQM following Imran Khan’s direct allegations that the organisation is responsible for the murder of its worker.

On March 7, 2013, BBC News’ Urdu Service reported that a few people have started using the moniker “Namaaloom” on their Twitter accounts. This happened right after the incident of a bomb blast ripping through the populated area near Abbas Town on March 3, 2013. Karachi came to a halt following the incident and people took refuge in the safety of their homes, tweeting their hearts out on the Internet. Even when the city, district and the provincial governments failed to effectively convey the ground realities prevalent in the city, the city’s average Joe’s clambered onto their computers and started expressing their concerns in the hell-bent city of Karachi.

They started using the “Namaaloom” moniker to make known that they were fed up of law enforcement agencies and the media laying all the blame on unknown personnel when it was certain who was behind these attacks. Tweets showed dismay over how perpetrators could easily be identified by the attires and flags they sport and yet the people reporting over these incidents failed to see this little evidence. In most cases, it was easy to identify Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) supporters. However, at the day’s end, reports in the media would call the attacks as being perpetrated by either the “Namaaloom Afraad” or “Kaladam Tanzeem” (banned outfits). Jokes about “Namaaloom Afraad” and banned “outfits” soon followed.

Namaaloom Afraad in recent news

Following the May 11 elections, Karachi has been engulfed in political chaos. Youth and PTI supporters thronged the Teen Talwar Chowk (the Three Swords Crossroads), a busy intersection in the heart of Karachi to voice their concerns about mass vote-rigging. Although they didn’t really come all out in blaming MQM for the farce, the MQM couldn’t hold in their guilt and their leader Altaf Hussain bombarded the rallying youth with some life-threatening warnings — “my people will make those ‘three swords’ a reality if the rallying crowds don’t stop,” he said.

Namaaloom Afraad kill PTI leader

Few days later and just before the NA-250 re-election, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf central vice president Zahra Shahid Hussain is shot dead by a bullet to her head. Guess who the media says did it? Yes, that’s right — it’s the “Namaaloom Afraad”.

To some it was very obvious that it couldn’t have been anyone other than the MQM. Twitter was abuzz with #NamaaloomAfraad hashtags yet again and included jokes that prevailed earlier in March 2013.

It was quite obvious what people thought.

Namaaloom Afraad elsewhere

Later in an video-link message from his hospital bed, Imran Khan publicly puts the blame for Zahra’s murder on the MQM and Altaf Hussain (see video below). He also blamed the British government for not taking actions against Hussain on their soil.

Following Imran’s tall claims, the “Namaaloom Afraad” take to the streets of Hyderabad – Sindh’s second largest city – and wreak havoc everywhere. In their reports, media clearly used the term “Namaaloom” to highlight not just their biased opinion but also showed the fear they hold regarding the naming of the organisation that clearly did. Imran Khan’s message was against the MQM and it could only have been MQM that coordinated the chaos and havoc on the city’s streets — it’s apparent the media in the country has an ulterior agenda we aren’t focused on yet.

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