Crime and terror groups are key non-state actors in Karachi and employ crime and violence to achieve political and economic gains. They have a different relationship with the state than crime groups in Italy where the state has more resources to share with the crime groups. Instead, much more complex relationships exist between the state and the non-state actors in this difficult environment where crime and terror groups have become a part of diffuse governance of the city, including provision of housing and water. Our analysis differs from others who suggest that crime and terror groups have stepped into a power void. We suggest that the political parties rather than the crime and terror groups are at the forefront of violent and criminalized politics. Therefore, violent non-state actors are not the ultimate arbiters of the political order. Crime and terror groups remain vulnerable as they may lose the state’s support and without this they face difficulty surviving in this highly competitive environment.