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  • Karachi stays stand still in Violence

    Published on August 4, 2010

    Life was paralyzed Tuesday in southern port city of Karachi in Pakistan following assassination of a politician Raza Haider on Monday evening and 46 more subsequent deaths overnight, as the city is still in grip of fear in continuing violence amid lurking fears of possible terrorism.

    Irate protestors torched 35 vehicles around the city, as over 130 people were wounded in a widespread violence that also went wild in other urban centers of Sindh including Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Sukkur, as soon as the news of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) member of southern Sindh provincial assembly Raza Haider’s assassination spreaded, local media reported.

    All shops in commercial centers are closed and frightened citizens are keeping behind closed doors as the streets in the 15 million inhabitants city present a deserted look. Gas/Petrol stations are closed adding more to the sufferings.

    The worst hit were daily-wagers whose push carts and kiosks have been burnt to ashes as violence started Monday evening. Schools in Sindh province that were opened on Monday after two months of summer vacations, have been closed for the next three days and examinations in different universities have also been postponed.

    Police said that over 700 persons have been killed in Karachi in the continuing target killing and subsequent violence since January this year. Over 60 people were killed in July while another 90 lost their lives due to continuing target killing in the month of June.

    “We called for a three-day peaceful mourning and have not given a strike call,” emphasized MQM senator Abbas Haider Rizvi. MQM chief Altaf Hussain advized the party workers to “remain calm” and not to unleash emotions in pressing times. Hussain who is in self exile in Britain since early 1990’s is operating his party from London mainly through telephonic addresses.

    The slain leader and his bodyguard will be laid to rest in a graveyard near MQM headquarters “Nine Zero” Tuesday afternoon amid an expected emotionally charged atmosphere and fears of a possible terrorist attack.

    “There is possibility of a suicide attack in the funeral,” Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik said while condemning the incident. The interior minister said that Raza Haider and others had already been informed about threat to their lives and had been provided with police bodyguards.

    The four unidentified assassins escaped successfully after killing the politician in a white car and a motorcycle. Four empty shells of Kalashnikov were found from the site of the incident, which was widely condemned from all corners of the country by a wide spectrum of political leaders and civil society members.

    Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said Haider’s murder is an attempt to divide Karachi and asked masses to foil it.

    “We are at the receiving end,” Rizvi told Geo News saying 150 MQM activists have so far been killed during the past few months alleging the rivaling ethnic Pashtun Awami National Party (ANP) of hurling threats at MQM, and fomenting violence by harboring Taliban and other militants outfits from the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan in Pashtun neighborhoods in Karachi.

    MQM is the fourth largest political party of Pakistan ranked after the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), main opposition party the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and PML-Quaid, has been keeping its vote bank as well as political maneuverability in the urban centers of Sindh province.

    It is the second largest party in Sindh province with 51 seats in the House of 166 after ruling PPP with 93 seats while ANP holds only two seats. MQM appeared on the mainstream national political scene after a landslide victory in 1988 general elections.

    “Black sheep in the system and organizations should be identified and grilled,” ANP Sindh province Chief Shahi Syed replied while putting all the responsibility on interior minister for checking saga of violence. ANP is the ruling party in the northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

    Analysts believe that all that violence and trouble is part of a continuing tug-of-war to take control over the administrative and commercial resources of Karachi, which produces 65 percent of the total revenue of Pakistan.

    Local analysts also cite two more reasons for the ongoing target killing: Antagonizing encroachers and land grabbing mafias, and drugs and crime mafias that are generally associated with political parties or individual politicians. While Rehman Malik believes that ethnicity is being instigated to promote Talibanization citing examples of confessions of some previously arrested militants.

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