KARACHI: Death toll from the latest spate of target killings in Karachi climbed to 43 on Monday, while over 70 were injured.
Police have so far arrested 61 suspects from various parts of the city.
According to Superintendent Police (SP) of Landhi Nasir Aftab three people were gunned down and another wounded by unidentified men while sitting in a carpet shop in the area.
Another man was killed and two others injured, in a shooting incident near Maleer Mandar. Unidentified miscreants also shot dead a handicapped man in Sharafi Goth area of the city.
Later, three bodies were recovered from Kalakot and Kalri, while four people were killed in Keamari and Pirabad. Two people were also gunned down in Qasba colony while another man was killed in Maleer.
Updated from print version (below)
Karachi death toll rises to 37, MQM wins Orangi seat
The death toll in Karachi rose to 37 on Sunday as violence continued for a second day in different parts of the city while the MQM declared victory in the critical Orangi by-elections.
In a related development, President Asif Zardari rejected the resignation of Sindh Governor Dr Ishrat ul Ebad, who had earlier flown in to Islamabad to hand in his papers. Instead, president Zardari asked Governor Ebad to work on the “almost collapsing law and order situation” in the provincial metropolis.
Earlier, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) shook the struggling PPP-led government on Sunday as reports surfaced that the party was contemplating pulling out of the Sindh coalition government in protest against the ongoing spate of targeted killings in Karachi.
A joint session of the MQM’s Central Coordination Committee in London and Karachi discussed all possible options available to the party in view of the latest developments in the city, following which Governor Ishratul Ebad flew to Islamabad to tender his resignation, sources said.
In the meantime, targeted killings continue in the city. As the situation deteriorated, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah ordered the police and Rangers to take immediate action. Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik also issued directives to the law-enforcing agencies to increase deployment in sensitive areas and take action “without discrimination.”
He also talked to the MQM leadership, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, and Sindh government’s top functionaries to calm the situation.
Another development in the day was the massive yet expected win in the Orangi by-elections by MQM candidate Saifuddin Khalid. He bagged 91,397 votes from PS-94 where the turnout was recorded at 69 per cent. Despite ANP’s boycott of the elections, its candidate Riaz Gul secured 292 votes while independent candidate Zeenat Yaseem bagged only 100 votes. Abdul Haq and Masood Alam, who were covering candidates for Khalid, collected 90 and 57 votes, respectively.
Returning Officer Syed Nadeem Hyder told The Express Tribune that no votes were cast in three out of 86 polling stations. The average votes cast in each polling station were between 1,100 and 1,200. He said that a total 92,125 votes were polled, of which 189 were rejected bringing the number of valid votes tally to 91,936. PS-94 had been declared vacant following the assassination of MQM’s senior leader Raza Haider. Khalid outdid his predecessor by 11,763 votes; the slain MQM leader had secured 79,634 votes in the 2008 general election.
Sindh’s provincial election commissioner Sono Khan Baloch told The Express Tribune that elections were generally held in a peaceful atmosphere. Although no untoward incident was witnessed, six persons were arrested near the Fountain English High School in Fareed Colony for creating a law and order situation, he said.
Earlier, the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) withdrew from its observation of the by-election in PS-94 due to what it called “deteriorating security situation in Karachi”. It said the reason why it pulled out was because the security situation “put the life and safety of observers” at risk. Fafen had trained 11 election observers to observe the polling process in the constituency, who were also accredited by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Meanwhile, ANP provincial president Shahi Syed set aside allegations that the party was involved in target killings. He alleged that “it has been a practice of the MQM to get votes at gunpoint.” He claimed that since their demand for holding polls under army supervision was not met, they preferred the boycott to avoid confrontation.
According to a statement released on the MQM’s website late on Sunday, the coordination committee alleged that the government was abetting criminals “as a silent spectator” instead of providing protection to its people. It alleged that the ANP and Peoples Aman Committee were directly involved in the acts of violence.
Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Fayyaz Laghari said police were investigating how many cases constituted target killings. He said around 20 police personnel have been suspended from different parts of the city, including Orangi Town, Baldia , and Kati Pahari.
(With additional reporting by Salman Siddiqui and Zia Khan)
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2010.