Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday said that the Awami National Party was not involved in the assassination of MQM MPA Raza Haider in Karachi on Monday.
Malik said that Haider's murder is a conspiracy to make the two parties clash with each other.
Death toll in Karachi reaches 45
Forty-five people were killed and more than 100 were injured in overnight violence in Karachi triggered by the murder of MQM MPA Raza Haider.
Security has been beefed up in the city on Tuesday morning after arson attacks and firing was reported from Landhi, Malir, Shah Faisal Colony and other areas overnight. According to reports, 12 suspects have also been arrested.
Public transport is off the roads today after the MQM announced a three-day mourning period against its leader's killing. All market places, schools and educational institutions have been closed.
Meanwhile, strict security measures have been taken at Jinnah Ground where the funeral prayers of Raza Haider will be offered after Zuhr.
In Hyderabad, business activities have been halted as MQM is mourning over its leader's death.
Unidentified men burned tires and blocked roads in Latifabad and other areas in Hyderabad. Meanwhile, transport and CNG stations will remain closed in the city today. A heavy contingent of police and Rangers are patrolling Hyderabad to avoid any untoward situation.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has termed Raza Haider's murder a conspiracy to make two parties clash with each other.
Speaking to the media in Islamabad, Malik said that the Karachi CCPO will present a probe report into the murder on Tuesday afternoon.
Updated from print edition (below)
Chaos in Karachi following MQM MPA’s murder
The phenomenon of target killings in Karachi assumed alarming proportions on Monday with the assassination of a sitting provincial legislator triggering intense violence in the provincial capital claiming over 30 lives.
The violence also spread to other areas of urban Sindh, including Hyderabad and Sukkur.
While it is still unclear whether the assassination was political or sectarian in nature, the gunning down of Sindh MPA from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Raza Haider sparked a wave of fear and violence across Karachi, bringing back painful memories of the terror that plagued the city in the ‘90s’. At least 40 vehicles were burnt in rioting that followed the assassination, while over 100 people were injured.
Though the city has been in the grip of the target killings for about two years now, it has, to date, only seen the killing of lower-level cadres. Haider was the first high-profile victim of violence that is tinged with politics, ethnicity and sectarianism.
Soon after Haider’s assassination, the city came to a grinding halt in a hail of aerial firing reported from a number of areas. Major markets and petrol stations shut down almost instantly. Traffic assumed chaotic proportions, with citizens, fearing the worst, rushing to get to the safety of their homes. The authorities, meanwhile, announced that educational institutions will remain closed on Tuesday.
According to the details, MQM MPA Raza Haider was shot dead by unidentified gunmen while in an imambargah in Nazimabad No 2.
Along with Haider, Khalid Khan, his gunman, was killed in the hail of bullets unleashed by the assassins. Doctors who received Haider’s body said that the MPA had been hit by no less than 18 bullets. Police, however, said that the fatal shot came from the bullet that hit him in his head.
Eyewitnesses said that there were six assassins travelling on motorcycles. Haider died on the way to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. He had been a member of the MQM since 1985, and elected to the Sindh Assembly from his Orangi Town constituency in 2008.
Riots started in the city within two hours of the incident. After the initial dash home by citizens, eyewitnesses said that the streets in the defunct district east wore a deserted look. Only those waiting for public transport could be seen standing on the roads.
“Everyone was in a frenzy. Shopkeepers in the furniture market beneath my apartments could not close down fast enough. One young man got off his bike to help one stash his furniture inside the shop. People walked home on foot because all the shops and restaurants closed down immediately,” Tehmina Qureshi, a resident of Gulistan-e-Jauhar who witnessed the violence told The Express Tribune.
Compounding the atmosphere of fear, street lights had been shut across the city. Neither city district government nor Cantonment Board Clifton officials were willing to comment on the lights. Heavy contingent of police and rangers were deployed in the tense areas. The dead included activists of both the MQM and the Awami National Party (ANP)
Casualties were reported from Liaquatabad, Model Colony, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, Landhi, and New Karachi.
Meanwhile, the funerals of the political workers of MQM and ANP killed late on Monday night were performed in different parts of the city marked by tension and heightened emotions. Heavy contingents of Rangers and police reached the spot to avert any untoward situation.
The number of dead brought to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Complex (JPMC) was stated to be 14, while 11 bodies were brought to the Civil Hospital Karachi. Five bodies were brought to the Abbassi and Qatar hospitals.
Matters in the city were already tense on Sunday after the killing of a former councillor of the MQM and a worker of the ANP.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain condemned the assassination of Raza Haider and termed it a great tragedy for the nation. He made an earnest appeal to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to order an inquiry into the incident and apprehend the killers as soon as possible.
The MQM Coordination Committee has announced three-day mourning over the tragic incident.
President Asif Ali Zardari, currently in France to meet the French president, has condemned the incident, and directed Interior Minister Rehman Malik to travel to Karachi and have the matter investigated thoroughly.
While it is still unclear who was responsible, the MQM coordination committee blamed the ANP for the killing, pointing to an earlier threatening statement by ANP Sindh chief Shahi Syed. Member of MQM Coordination Committee Wasey Jalil while talking to The Express Tribune said that “the MQM is hundred per cent sure that Shahi Sayed and the ANP are behind the ongoing target killing incidents and killing of Raza Haider”.
However, Syed denied the allegations, saying that the killing of the MPA was a conspiracy against peace in Karachi. “We strongly condemn the incident and demand the government to bring perpetrators of the incident to justice,” Syed said.
General Secretary ANP Amin Khattak while talking to The Express Tribune also condemned the target killing of MQM MPA, and denied the allegations that the ANP could be involved in the killing. Replying to a question, he said that Shahi Syed’s statement regarding taking revenge of the killing of ANP workers was just a political statement.
He said ANP is with the leadership of MQM in this time of grief. Meanwhile, President Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamat Maulana Orangzeb Farooqi also condemned the killing of MQM MPA Raza Haider. “This is a terrorist plot aimed at disturbing the peace of the country, carried out by enemies of Pakistan,” Maulana Farooqi told The Express Tribune. He added: “We condemn the remarks made by Rehman Malik. We do not support violence and terrorism. In this difficult time we stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers in the MQM.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2010.