KARACHI: Karachi observed its third day of mourning this week as violence continued to plague the city, taking the death toll to 14 in the last 24 hours.
The day of mourning had been called by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, who had also urged the business community to support his call by keeping their businesses shut. Traffic was low and businesses remained shut for most of the day.
Earlier in the day, the chief justice of Sindh High Court had taken notice of the situation in the city and had asked DG Rangers and IG Police to file detailed reports.
Petrol pumps and businesses started to reopen and transport also started to run again after 5pm.
Hussain had also later thanked the citizens of Karachi for observing a “peaceful day of mourning.”
The recent wave of violence began after the killing of a man believed to be affiliated with the Awami National Party (ANP) on Friday evening. The man identified as Ashiq was shot at and injured in Qasba Colony, and later passed away in the evening. Three MQM supporters were also killed late Friday night.
Workers of both the MQM and ANP have been targeted this week, sparking a new wave of violence that has seen the city experience no activity and sporadic incidents of violence.
Rehman Malik visits Karachi
Meanwhile, Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik, on arrival in Karachi on Saturday, said that the city was being targeted in order to destabilise Pakistan.
Talking to the media at Jinnah International airport, Malik said that anti state elements were creating a law and order situation in the financial hub of the country, adding that MQM workers were being killed under a conspiracy.
"Innocent people also fell victim under the same conspiracy", the minister added.
Malik further said that money extortion (bhatta), drug and land mafias were active in the city and contributed towards the violence.
Talking about the steps being taken by the Federal government, he said that Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani had taken notice of the situation and ordered immediate measures to improve the law and order in the metropolis. Malik hoped that the city’s situation would be improved very soon as strict actions were being taken against elements involved in the violence.
The minister also paid a surprise visit to violence prone areas, including Katti Pahari, Qasba Colony and Banaras. He appreciated the performance of Rangers and police, adding that he had directed Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) to take strict action against culprits.
Apprising the media on the number of arrests, Malik said the police had arrested 17 suspects while Rangers had arrested 38 suspects.
Police, on the orders of Interior Minister, carried out an operation in Orangi and detained over half a dozen suspects during raids in Bukhari Colony early Sunday morning.
Superintendent of Police (SP) Akram Abro said the arrested were suspected of being involved in the Banaras bridge target killing incident.
End of live updates
Altaf Hussain has thanked the citizens of Karachi for observing a "peaceful day of mourning".
He has also called on traders to resume their business.
Traders have announced that they will reopen businesses starting 4pm today.
The All Karachi Businessmen Association has announced that business centres will remain open tomorrow.
According to the chairman, Atiq Mir, out of nine working days they have only been able to work for three which has resulted in a loss of Rs20 billion, therefore markets will remain open tomorrow.
Petrol pumps and CNG stations will reopen by 5pm today.
Police arrested two suspects from the Site B area and are not sure if they were involved in the current wave of violence in the city. A 7mm rifle and a TT pistol were recovered from the two suspects, who were identified as Abdul Hanif and Mohammad Imran.
DIG West Imran Yaqoob’s office said that a case of negligence had been lodged against four policemen who were supposed to be performing their duty at Banaras bridge on Friday night, but had not followed instructions.
A high level meeting is scheduled to be held at the Governor House at 3pm, where the police chief Additional IG Karachi Akhtar Gorchani is expected to give a briefing.
Three workers of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi (MQM-H) were shot at and wounded in the area of Landhi, where party leader Afaq Ahmed resides.
Gunmen opened fire at the party activists at 8:15 am as they were standing next to shops that the armed men were forcibly shutting down. According to the MQM-H, their workers, and not the store, were targeted.
MQM-H worker Atlfua from Korangi was shot in the head and is in a critical state. He was first admitted to the Korangi hospital and has now been shifted to Jinnah hospital. Two other workers, Liaqat Ali and Abdul Ghaffar alias Soni, were also shot at and are being treated at the Jinnah hospital.
Ahmed split from the MQM (then called the Mohajir Qaumi Movement) in the 1990s and formed his own faction of the party. He was released from jail on December 17, 2011 after serving seven years.
The funeral prayers of MQM supporter Kamaluddin, who was killed in the attack at the Benaras Pul, will be offered on April 1 at Mohajir Chowk, Orangi Town and not on Saturday, as earlier stated by the party.
Express News correspondents reporting from different parts of the city said that traffic was low and businesses remained shut.
Parts of Sindh including Hyderabad, Tando Allahyar and Mirpurkhas have also seen businesses shut in some areas and traffic has also been reported to be low.
The Hyderabad to Karachi traffic route is reported to be closed, while traffic going from Hyderabad to other parts of Sindh is low.
Tyres were burnt by miscreants in parts of Hyderabad in the morning today. There were also reports of members of a nationalist party forcing businesses to reopen, which resulted in a clash between two groups.
The Awami National Party’s Senator Shahi Syed, who heads the party in Sindh, is expected to arrive in Karachi today.
According to ANP Sindh Information Secretary Pir Riaz Gul, Shahi Syed has welcomed the raid by the Rangers on Friday on the ANP headquarters, the Bacha Khan Markaz, as nothing was recovered in the raid.
Four police officers who were present at Banaras bridge during the firing incident last night have been arrested. A case will also be registered against them.
Petrol pumps are closed all over the city, while the security situation is reported to be volatile in the areas of Pak Colony, Nazimabad, Paposh, Korangi, Orangi, SITE, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Shah Faisal Colony and Manghopir.
A total of 14 people have been killed in Karachi since Friday.
Chief Justice of Sindh High Court, Musheer Alam on Saturday morning took notice of the chaos and worsening law and order situation in Karachi.
According to unofficial figures 430 citizens have been killed in incidents of firing during the first three months of 2012.
The chief justice of SHC has taken notice of the breakdown of law and order and resultant loss of lives in the city, said Registrar SHC Abdul Rasool Memon. The Director General Pakistan Rangers and Provincial Police Officer (PPO), commonly called Inspector General Police Sindh, were asked to file detailed reports by evening today, the registrar said.
CJ Musheer Alam is also the head of the monitoring committee formed on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the suo motu proceedings held in August 2011.
The MQM Coordination Committee has accused the Awami National Party of systematically killing Mohajirs, and has called on the Mohajir community to unite for the sake of its survival.
The funerals of MQM supporters killed at the Banaras bridge in Karachi last night will be held at Zuhr today. The funerals of Waseem and Hasan will take place in Liaquatabad, Sami Kamal's will be held in Orangi Town and Kamaluddin's funeral prayers will be offered in Qasba Colony.