Killing of politician triggers clashes in Pakistan's Karachi

Clashes erupted in Karachi after a member of the dominant political party in the city was shot dead.

Killing of politician triggers clashes in Pakistan's Karachi

At least 45 people have been killed in the Pakistani commercial hub of Karachi, after a member of the dominant political party in the city was shot dead, police said on Tuesday.

Raza Haider of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), was gunned down on Monday along with his bodyguard while attending a funeral in the city of 18 million.

The unrest comes with Pakistan already battling to contain unprecedented flooding that has killed up to 1,500 people and left 2.5 million affected, largely in the impoverished northwest.

Karachi is home to the country's main port, stock exchange and the central bank.

"This obviously raises concern and anxiety, and if these things continue, Pakistan's economy gets undermined," said Hasan-Askari Rizvi, a political and security analyst.

"It is a pathetic situation and exposes the helplessness of the government to perform its basic duty towards its citizens," said Rizvi.

The main stock index was up 0.13 percent by 10.30 a.m. (0530 GMT) but in very dull trade as dealers said there was thin attendence due to security concerns.

"This could be the last nail in the coffin and could be disastrous for the market because as it is, volume has been below average and this may lead to foreign investors exiting the market," said Sajid Bhanji, a dealer at brokerage Arif Habib Ltd.

"Targeted attacks"


Officials said more than 100 people were wounded and dozens of vehicles and shops torched by mobs who took to the streets after the death.

Karachi police chief Waseem Ahmed said the police had credible information that Haider's killing was carried out by a banned sectarian organisation, though he did not say which one.

Police officials said that they found evidence suggesting that a banned organisation had planned a suicide attack during Haider's funeral, scheduled for later on Tuesday.

But, Rizvi said anyone could have been behind Monday's attack.

"All political forces in Karachi have their armed groups," he said. "And then there are a lot of other groups - criminal, sectarian, drug mafia... So we are not sure who is involved at what time."

Schools were closed in a tense city with very thin traffic on the streets. The MQM has called for three days of mourning.

Provincial authorities have already banned public political meetings in Karachi in an effort to control intermittent waves of political killings.

A total of 102 people were killed in targeted attacks from January to June, with 40 more last month, accurding to Reuters news agency.

Mohajirs, the descendants of Urdu-speakers who migrated from India after the creation of Pakistan in 1947, are the biggest community and dominate the city's administration through the MQM.

It is also home to the largest concentration of ethnic Pashtuns outside the northwest.

Government officials also say criminals, including drug lords competing for turf in the city's teeming neighborhoods, take advantage of the tension, complicating the police's difficulties.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Ağustos 2010, 16:37

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