A day of mourning for two men turned into one for at least ten others in Karachi as reaction unfolded over the double homicide of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) activists on Tuesday.
Armed men barged into the house of Mansoor Mukhtar, shooting him, his brother Masood and sister-in-law Uzma early morning in PIB Colony.
The news spread fast. By 8am, the neighbourhood, and other areas including Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Shah Faisal Colony and Landhi, began to register street reaction, despite calls for calm from MQM chief Altaf Hussain.
Up to 46 vehicles were set alight, nine other men were shot dead and up to two dozen injured. The MQM announced a day of mourning and the funerals got under way.
The party has blamed men involved in the “Lyari gang war” for the attack and has appealed to the president, prime minister and Sindh government to take action.
Well-trained to react quickly, public transport, petrol pumps, CNG stations and businesses across Karachi shut down. Schools sent children home and university exams were put off.
The victims brought to the city’s hospitals were mostly rickshaw drivers, passers-by and shopkeepers. Police and rangers hit the ground but aside from patrolling they had no other orders.
“In such a situation, only patrols are ordered because if we react, things could spiral out of control,” said the SHO of a police station in district West.
By noon, the majority of the damage was done. By nighttime relatively unscathed neighbourhoods began to return to some semblance of normalcy. However, more violence is expected in the coming days.
An inquiry team was formed to look into the PIB Colony murders and rioting. District East DIG Tahir Naveed will lead it.
Up to 5,000 people attended the funerals at Jinnah ground in Azizabad. MQM leader Raza Haroon told the media that their protest would continue till arrests were made. He said that a man named Ahmed Ali from the Peoples Amn Committee was behind the killings.
“Even though the culprits were identified quickly, the police were unable to arrest them,” he said.
“The government can’t end a handful of terrorists, how are they going to protect the country?” he added.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah condemned the killing and ordered an inquiry while Sindh Information Minister Shazia Marri thanked Altaf Hussain for appealing to people to show patience.
In upper Sindh businesses stayed open for the most part, except for Sukkur. It was more violent in lower Sindh where two men were injured in firing in Tando Allahyar and at least five vehicles were set alight in Hyderabad. Schools were closed down and university students from Hyderabad who go to campuses in Jamshoro and Tandojam were stranded. Drivers of university buses refused to enter the city and dropped them on the outskirts.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement staged a walkout from the National Assembly on Tuesday to protest the killing of its party worker in Karachi.
“We will not sit in parliament today until the government brings the culprits to justice,” MQM parliamentary leader Haider Abbas Rizvi said.
Before leaving the house, he said the government should debate security issues in the country rather than the state’s foreign policy.
Police at the PIB Colony police station registered an FIR against Ahmed Ali Magsi for a double murder, and an attempt to murder.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry indicated that the names of Magsi and UK-based Friends of Lyari chairman Habib Jan Baloch had been placed on the Exit Control List.
With additional input by our correspondent in Islamabad
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2012.