July 9, 2011
Even for a basket case like Pakistan, this is worrisome:
For the first time since violence started on Tuesday, paramilitary troops and police commandos are patrolling the city’s western neighbourhoods.
On Friday police were ordered to shoot-on-sight anyone involved in violence.
Ambulances and armoured vehicles have been evacuating families trapped inside their homes for days.
The surge in violence in Pakistan’s economic capital is widely blamed on armed gangs linked to rival political and ethnic groups.
Day of mourning
Residents said they were taking advantage of the lull in shootings to move to safer areas as they had little faith in the government’s ability to put an end to the lawlessness.
On Friday, the city was totally shut down after its main political party, the MQM – which recently resigned from the government to join the opposition ranks – called for a day of mourning.
The shutdown, however, did not prevent more deaths.
The violence spilled over in other parts of Karachi and more than a dozen people were killed in shootings, hand grenade and rocket attacks.
While there is a political element to the violence, the core reason for it is related to ethnic and economic tensions between Urdu speaking Mohajirs and Pasto speaking Pashtuns who are members of different political parties – the MQM and ANP parties respectively. The violence broke out in some of the worst slums of South Asia and given the weakness of the Pakistani economy, residents feel even more hopeless about their prospects than before.
Pakistan: A nuclear-armed powder keg.