Aftab Qureshi was an excellent doctor and an excellent human being. We are all deeply pained to see him go in such a barbaric manner. While the doctors have been particularly victimised for sectarian, ethnic and financial reasons, every citizen of Karachi is vulnerable to kidnapping, theft, mugging and cold blooded murder from the moment they step out of their houses.

We consider each killing as a one-time event and close our clinics for three days, hold condolence meetings, press conferences or give protest statements. For thousands of innocent people who are robbed of their valuables everyday, by the gun-toting bandits, we do not do even do that. On the other hand, the government does everything in its power to patronise and promote the citizens to take up arms. It has issued almost two million licenses, to their special friends and cronies, with monthly quotas for each parliamentarian and Kalashnikov gifts to the retiring senators. Thus we have become the only country in the world where the state is itself the chief patron of crime. Under these circumstances, unless all peaceful citizens leave the country, as recommended by me, they would continue to be killed or looted.

There is only one way to put an end to this suicidal course. Eliminate the root cause. Can the citizens, doctors, professionals and the civil society organisations, regardless of their other differences, not agree on one basic issue? A law should be passed, and as quickly as the dust settles from Local Bodies debate, to abolish the culture of weapons. The law should be that, “No citizen, regardless of his rank or status, rich or poor, religious or secular must be allowed to possess, carry or display any weapon of any bore - licensed or otherwise. Providing security is the responsibility of the state, and it must not be sublet to private armies. We demand cancellation of all gun licenses issued so far, and a total withdrawal of all weapons.” Also do not vote for a political party that supports militant wings amongst its ranks or is not willing to publicly announce that it will de-weaponise all individuals, cities and towns of Pakistan. Unless we all agree on this one point agenda, we would continue to await our turn as the next possible victim.

NAEEM SADIQ,

Lahore, October 20.