Karachi marked another day of mourning – the third in a week – on Saturday as the death toll from the violence since Tuesday soared to 33 – a figure that was contested though by police officials who attributed other reasons for some of the deaths.
The shutterdown strike was called by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) after three of its supporters were killed on the Banaras bridge late Friday night when their car was ambushed by armed men.
At least eight people were killed between late Friday night and Saturday morning in separate incidents and eight others were injured on Saturday in episodes of targeted attacks and firing across the city.
Sindh High Court Chief Justice Musheer Alam took notice of the deteriorating law and order situation and asked the director general of Pakistan Rangers and the inspector general of Sindh police to file detailed reports on the situation by Saturday evening.
In an apparent bid to scale down the problem, the Sindh police disputed the figures of those who were victims of target killing in its report submitted to the SHC and maintained that only 8 persons out of 16 fell victim to target killing and attributed the other killings to sectarian, ethnic, personal and other reasons.
In the past week, the city has marked three days of mourning – one was called by the Awami National Party (ANP) and two by the MQM – after several political party workers were shot dead.
Meanwhile political efforts kicked off to defuse the situation. Interior Minister Rehman Malik dashed to Karachi and undertook a brief visit to troubled areas. Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari, who happened to be in the city, also held meetings to discuss the situation.
PML-N meets ST for future alliance
Over in Lahore, PML-N Nawaz Sharif expressed deep concern over the Karachi situation in a meeting with Sunni Tehreek chief Muhammad Sarwat Ejaz Qadri. Sources said that both parties discussed the possibility of a future alliance in Karachi and Hyderabad.
Nawaz demanded that the Sindh government implement recommendations of the Supreme Court regarding maintenance of law and order.
He added that maintenance of peace in Karachi is essential for stability and economic development of Pakistan. Qadri stated that he endorsed Nawaz’s principles about politics and his vision of future politics.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2012.