From the early 1990s onwards, Karachi's industrialists have been exposed to forms of political protest (strike calls, blockades) and criminal practices (extortion, kidnappings) specifically targeting the economy and the entrepreneurial class. As a response to these disruptive practices on the part of political parties, religious groups and criminal gangs, Karachi's business elites have organized for their own protection. Through their Human Resources, Administration, and Security Departments, as well as through the various musclemen and middlemen they employ, manufacturing industries, in particular, have been policing their own premises and surrounding working class neighborhoods. Industrialists have also contracted the services of private and public enforcers, from security firms to regular law enforcement agencies (the police and the paramilitary Rangers, namely). By observing the interweaving of state repression with the disciplinary practices and surveillance systems of corporate actors, this study aims to revisit, in the context of neo-liberal globalization, the intersections between the violence of state power and that of the capitalist enterprise. In this perspective, this contribution puts forward an extensive conception of security architectures, as an assemblage of interests, resources and logics of action (the software) as much as a combination of infrastructure and technologies integrated into specific spatial schemes (the hardware). Karachi's architecture of security and the fantasies of control that inform it while being nurtured by it are yet another proof of a city at war, but at war with whom? Possibly with the city itself, especially in the ambition of this architecture to regulate if not hamper traffic flows - what and who moves, and at what pace?
Laurent Gayer is senior research fellow at Sciences Po-CERI, Paris. His work focuses on the violent fabric of social order, in the context of South Asia (India, Pakistan, and Nepal). He is currently working on the management of uncertainty and the creative uses of disorder by Karachi's business elites, and in particular on new architectures of in/security emerging in the city's trading estates. His major publications include Karachi. Ordered Disorder and the Struggle for the City (Hurst/Oxford University Press US, 2014), Armed Militias of South Asia. Fundamentalists, Maoists and Separatists (2009) and Muslims in Indian Cities. Trajectories of Marginalisation (2012), both coedited with Christophe Jaffrelot and published by Hurst/Columbia University Press.