KARACHI (PPI) - Modern civilized urban metropolitans are not just made of roads, tall building, roads and bridges, but the ambiance of broadmindedness and culture of social and political tolerance are the real factors that shape an open-minded pluralist society, an unmistaken hallmark of urban civic life. Unfortunately, Karachi has been braving a political atmosphere for a past few decades, where things are not decided on the basis of truth and logic, but hooliganism and gunpoint, where difference of opinion is not tolerated and where political dissidents are silenced by mighty armed mafias. This was observed by senior politician and ex-member of Sindh Assembly Mohammad Younus Barai, who himself witnessed a barbaric act of political intolerance in Karachi, recently. On the day of Eidul Azha he was harassed and kept in illegal custody for hours by some armed men in Gulshan-e-Iqbal and next day a group of armed men attacked him as he was getting a haircut in a saloon on University Road and shot in leg. He said gagging political opponents in Karachi and trying to treat the city as a conquered fiefdom shows a fascist mentality. He said criminal mafias may think on these patterns but not the genuine political parties, having deep roots in masses. He said some armed outfits in Karachi with a mafia mentality may dream they would rule the city for ever with their heavy-handed trigger-happy tactics, but the history of world shows ruling areas at gunpoint and wining their minds and hearts are two different things. Younus Barai said his party, Jamaat-e-Islami, believes in peaceful struggle and it would not bow down before the terrorist elements. He said they has always opposed the politics of Kalashnikov, extortion and gunny-bag packed bodies, and continue to do so in future. He said it is true that some elements have held a lot of Karachiites hostage at gunpoint, but to think that every citizen is with them would be a wrong conclusion. He said Karachiites this year voluntarily gave more hides of sacrificial animals to JI-run Al-Khidmat than any past year. He said hundreds of thousands of Karachiites cast vote when their party recently held a 'referendum on controversial Kerry-Lugar Bill. Barai said nothing could defeat a peaceful political struggle, adding armed mafias may survive for short periods, but in the long run only genuine peaceful political parties would stay. He regretted that present rulers were giving overt and covert shelter to criminal outfits, due to their political compulsions. He said the ruling junta fully knows the real face of their coalition partners in Karachi, but still it is reluctant to take action against them as it might cost the rulers their chairs. He said to defeat the bullet-based politics we must have to strengthen the ballot-based one. He said if all the genuine political parties join hands on just one-point agenda to purge the politics from bullet and blackmailing, the handful of criminal elements could be easily defeated. He said his party has always extended the hand of cooperation to all political parties in this regard, as this is the only way to give peace and tranquility to Karachiites. Barai said people of Karachi are now fed up with the violence-based politics and they wanted a real change. He said if free and fair polls, without gun-totting masked men around polling stations and stuffing of ballot boxes inside them, were ever held in Karachi, the voters of this most educated city of Pakistan would reject the criminal elements. He said everybody knows who is behind the land grabbing, extortion and drug business in Karachi, but the government is deliberately looking the other way, as it does not want to upset its own political applecart in the present fragile coalition setup. He said the rulers on one hand are claiming to improve the soft image of Karachi, but on the other hand they, themselves, have given a completely free hand to those elements who do not want return of peace to this city. He said how Karachi could be counted in the comity of civilized urban cosmopolitans, when its citizens are afraid to go outdoors in evenings, when its bazaars and markets are not safe from extortionists and street criminals and when difference of opinion is not tolerated here, and political dissidents are talked with the language of bullet. He said we must have change the social and political culture of this city and ensure that political differences are settled though dialogue and debate and not with bullying, harassment, kidnappings, and killings. He said the recent report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan about the target killings of political workers shows how political opponents are dealt with in this city. He asked how we can give this largest city of Pakistan a softer image in these appalling circumstances. Barai recalled Karachi had remained a peaceful city in past where citizens belonging to any school of thought or political opinion used to live peacefully, where hot political debates amongst rival political activists were held over cup of tea in restaurants, where people used to visit parks, theaters and beach in late evenings, and where public display of arms by political activists was unthinkable. He said the last two to three decades are a nightmare for Karachiites, which would soon pass over. He said thanks to proactive media and judiciary now citizens are more aware socially and politically and they could not be held hostage by armed mafias and criminal elements for long. He opined that to give a positive and soft image to Karachi, we all should have to play our due role individually and collectively. He said the city should be made weapon-free and a culture of political dialogue and debate promoted there. He said living a safe, secure and peaceful life is the birthright of Karachiites and they could not be deprived of it for long. He said our political parties, writers, intellectuals, and vibrant civil society have to come on forefront to once again make Karachi a truly peaceful, law-abiding, tolerance, open-minded, and pluralist society.