KARACHI: Pakistan ordered hundreds of extra paramilitary policemen onto the streets of Karachi on Thursday after a fresh night of political and ethnic violence killed 14 people. “We have dispatched 500 FC (Frontier Constabulary) troops in Karachi,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters in Islamabad. The move comes five days after Malik claimed that the government had restored order to parts of Karachi, where a week of unrest killed 95 people in the deadliest year of violence in Pakistan’s financial capital since 1995. The situation also forced the early closure at the Karachi Stock Exchange due to poor attendance, Mohammad Sohail, chief executive officer of the Topline Securities brokerage, told AFP.
“We closed the stock market after half a day due to the deteriorated law and order situation in the city. We did not open the market for the afternoon session because there was very small attendance,” he said. The fresh violence erupted after provincial minister Zulfiqar Mirza criticised Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and its leader Altaf Hussain. Mirza later said in a statement that those remarks were his “personal opinion” and “if someone was hurt by them then I apologise”.
Roads were deserted on Thursday, with minimal traffic in normally bustling commercial and residential areas of Karachi, where most shopping malls, markets and restaurants were closed. Home ministry official Sharafuddin Memon said that the death toll had risen to 14 and intermittent gunfire was heard in Karachi. “Fourteen people have been killed and the situation was tense in Karachi,” Memon told AFP.
The city police chief had earlier said 12 people, including a paramilitary Rangers soldier, had been killed in the violence.
He said 21 people were injured and more than a dozen vehicles had been set ablaze in different parts of the city, adding that police had rounded up around 160 suspects. – brecorder