Snipers hidden in buildings attacked an anti-Mohajir province rally, unleashing panic that subsequently left 13 people dead over the rest of the day and over 35 others injured by the end of Tuesday.
The rally was organised by the Awami Tehreek (AT), a Sindh-based nationalist party. The rally was led by AT’s president, Ayaz Latif Palijo, who was accompanied by Lyari’s Uzair Jan Baloch, Zafar Baloch and other leaders. “We’ll die but we won’t let Sindh be divided,” chanted the protesters.
Of note was the participation and support put forward for the rally by members of mainstream political parties Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Awami National Party (ANP).
Titled ‘Mohabbat-e-Sindh (Love of Sindh)’, the march started out as a peaceful one – with a few thousand men, women and children at Lyari’s Ath Chowk. Their destination was the Karachi Press Club but they came under attack at Napier Road, just a half hour after they headed out at 3:30pm.
About 14 people were injured in the initial firing, while three were said to have died at the hospital. What followed was a spate of violent incidents across the city.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has ordered a judicial inquiry into the attack. According to a spokesperson for the CM House, a serving judge of the Sindh High Court will probe the violence.
Meanwhile, the AT has called for a province-wide shutter-down strike against the killings – and has vowed to avenge the deaths. On the other hand, a high level meeting on Karachi violence will convene today (Wednesday) at the CM House. Interior Minister Rehman Malik is expected to attend. Chief Minister Shah, who also holds the acting charge of the home ministry, has appealed to the business community to open markets, promising government-provided security.
The ill-fated rally was organised in reaction to the increasing appearance of graffiti calling for a separate Mohajir province to be carved out of Sindh. Sindhi nationalists had already reacted badly a day before and the government had issued orders for the inflammatory wall chalking to be removed.
Later, the interior minister in messages posted on mirco-blogging website Twitter pinned the blame on PML-N – saying the party would have to answer why they incited violence when Lyari had just begun to calm down.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2012.