Monthly Archives: July 2011
At least 24 people have been killed in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi in violence since Saturday, police and hospital sources say.
Most violence was reported from the eastern and central parts of the city, police say.
Hundreds of people have been killed in ethnic violence in this sprawling metropolis in recent months.
Much of it has involved activists of the city’s dominant parties such as the MQM, the ANP and PPP.
The latest round of violence started when members of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) resisted attempts by a breakaway faction to come out of hiding – after a decade under cover – and enter areas of the city.
The MQM is mainly a party of Muslim Urdu-speaking people whose families moved to Sindh province at the time of the partition of India in 1947.
The MQM(H) broke away from the MQM in 1991, and since then the two have had a history of mutual violence and armed hostilities.
The top leaders of MQM(H) were jailed in 2002-03 on various charges, and the bulk of its activists went into hiding, fearing persecution by members of the MQM who were then in power.
The MQM is still a part of the ruling coalition both at the centre and in Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital.
The failure of the prosecution to obtain a conviction against Afaq Ahmad, the top leader of the MQM(H), prompted his party activists to return to their areas of the city.
Witnesses told BBC Urdu service that violence erupted in Malir district of Karachi on Saturday when some MQM(H) activists tried to enter the area. The activists were among those who had been in hiding for nearly 10 years after their leaders were jailed on various charges.
She said that the houses of three MQM(H) activists were also burnt down.
Meanwhile, the London-based chief of MQM party, Altaf Hussain, in a statement on Sunday blamed “armed terrorists” and “criminal elements” for causing a “bloodbath” in some areas.
Police and paramilitary rangers have been put on 24-hour patrol duty in some tense areas of Karachi, where weapons were recovered and arrests made, police official Naim Baroka told the media.
Meanwhile the administration has banned pillion riding on motorbikes to reduce the number of drive-by shootings.
KARACHI (Xinhua) – At least seven people were killed and a dozen other were injured on Friday as supporters of two groups from ethnic Urdu-speaking community clashed in some parts of the Pakistani port city of Karachi, police sources and witnesses said.
Armed activists of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM-Haqqiqi) exchanged fire in Malir district which later spread to Landhi area, police said.
The clashes started after the MQM-Haqqiqi group led by Afaq Ahmed resisted attempt by the MQM to take control of Kokhrapar area in Malir, which had been stronghold of Haqqiqi group. Five activists of MQM were killed in Malir.
In retaliation, the MQM supporters attacked the Haqqiqi men in Landhi and killed two of its supporters.
A total of 12 people from both sides were injured in clashes continued for several hours.
Witnesses said that the Haqqiqi men also occupied five offices of MQM in Malir area after the clash.
The paramilitary force and police failed to control the firing.
Markets were closed and transport off the road as the clashes started early morning.
Karachi, the capital of Sindh province and Pakistan’s commercial center, has seen series of ethnic and political violence in recent weeks.
Scores of people were killed and many more were injured in clashes earlier this month between ethnic Muhajir and Pashtuns.
KARACHI, July 17: A young member of the Punjabi-Pakhtun Ittehad organising committee
was shot dead at a shop within the remit of the Al-Falah police station, Malir, on Sunday, officials said.
They added that Wali Mohammad Aryan, 33, was having a haircut in the Kehkashan Society when some armed men
barged into the barber shop and shot him dead before fleeing.
The victim was rushed to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
A senior police officer of the Al-Falah police station requesting anonymity told Dawn that the killing seemed to
be a result of some rivalry between the PPI and its student wing.
After a daylong visit President Asif Ali Zardari returned to Karachi from Iran and held meetings with officials on violence in Karachi and deteriorating law and order situation.
He expressed concern over the continuation of violence in the city and directed the Sindh home minister to take effective steps to quell violence.
According to official sources, the president asked the minister, Mr Manzoor Wasan, to take all possible measures to restore peace.
At a meeting at the Bilawal House, the home minister briefed the president on the security situation since the deployment of Rangers to clear the Kati Pahari area of gunmen and to evacuate the families trapped in that area.
Mr Wasan also informed the president about the killing of Amir Shah, President of the PIA Union, who was gunned down in Karachi on Saturday, the ensuing protests and weekend clashes between estranged communities in Mauripur area.
He said that Amir Shah appeared to be a victim of target killing and a report would soon be available to the government and the culprits would be traced.
About the violence on Mauripur Road, the president asked the home minister to resolve the issue by Monday and persuade the communities to bury the hatchet and live together peacefully.
Mr Wasan told reporters that law and order was the prime concern of the president and he had assured him that he would establish the writ of the government in cooperation with all stakeholders.
The home minister said he would try to take on board all the forces but needed some time to deal with the problem.
Mr Wasan said the president stressed the need for capacity building of law-enforcement agencies and assured him that better equipment would be acquired to deal with the menace of terrorism and meet the challenge of law and order.
Sources in the presidency said the president condemned the assassination of Amir Shah and urged workers to show restraint.
He termed the murder as shocking and asked the provincial authorities to use all resources to arrest the assailants. He
conveyed his deep grief and sorrow to the bereaved family.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rehman Malik gave a new twist to the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi as he said Israel-made weapons had been recovered from trouble-makers in the city.
He told reporters before his departure for Karachi from Islamabad that some external hands were involved in the unrest.
“Weapons are being brought to Karachi from abroad,” he said.
Not only weapons, the minister said, even target killers also were coming from outside. “Steps are being taken to tackle the situation,” he said without elaborating.
He claimed that the law and order situation in Karachi would be brought under control soon despite the fact that incidents of target killings are still being reported from different areas.
“President Zardari has ordered that peace should be restored in Karachi at any cost,” he said.
The minister also indicated that there was a breakthrough in PPP-MQM relations, saying: “The MQM is still with us because the separation is temporary.”
Commenting on the role played by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the minister said the PML-Q chief was continuing his talks with the MQM on behalf of the PPP.
Mr Malik said the PPP-MQM coalition was necessary for peace in Karachi, adding that he hoped the MQM would revise its decision and rejoin the government soon.
“Doors of our party will always remain open. The president has welcomed the statement of Altaf Hussain and tension between PPP and MQM will end soon,” he said.
Responding to a question about PML-N workers who forcibly freed MNA Anjum Aqeel from police custody on Friday, the minister said: “PML-N workers consider Islamabad as Faisalabad and use weapons.”
He said the government would never forgive those who violate laws of the land. “We will make public the inquiry report being prepared on his escape from police custody,” he said.
Replying to a question about Zafar Qureshi, the former Additional Director of Federal Investigation Agency, he said the action taken by the government against him was legal.
Provide information on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) in Pakistan.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Altaf (MQM-A) has been widely accused of human rights abuses since its founding two decades ago. It claims to represent Mohajirs— Urdu-speaking Muslims who fled to Pakistan from India after the 1947 partition of the subcontinent, and their descendants.
In the mid-1990s, the MQM-A was heavily involved in the widespread political violence that wracked Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, particularly Karachi, the port city that is the country’s commercial capital. MQM-A militants fought government forces, breakaway MQM factions, and militants from other ethnic-based movements. In the mid-1990s, the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, and others accused the MQM-A and a rival faction of summary killings, torture, and other abuses (see, e.g., AI 1 Feb 1996; U.S. DOS Feb 1996). The MQM-A routinely denied involvement in violence.
The current MQM-A is the successor to a group called the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) that was founded by Altaf Hussein in 1984 as a student movement to defend the rights of Mohajirs, who by some estimates make up 60 percent of Karachi’s population of twelve million. At the time, Mohajirs were advancing in business, the professions, and the bureaucracy, but many resented the quotas that helped ethnic Sindhis win university slots and civil service jobs. Known in English as the National Movement for Refugees, the MQM soon turned to extortion and other types of racketeering to raise cash. Using both violence and efficient organizing, the MQM became the dominant political party in Karachi and Hyderabad, another major city in Sindh. Just three years after its founding, the MQM came to power in these and other Sindh cities in local elections in 1987 (AI 1 Feb 1996; U.S. DOS Feb 1997, Feb 1999; HRW Dec 1997).
The following year, the MQM joined a coalition government at the national level headed by Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which took power in elections following the death of military leader General Zia ul-Haq. This marked the first of several times in the 1980s and 1990s that the MQM joined coalition governments in Islamabad or in Sindh province. Meanwhile, violence between the MQM and Sindhi groups routinely broke out in Karachi and other Sindh cities (AI 1 Feb 1996; Jane’s 14 Feb 2003).
In 1992, a breakway MQM faction, led by Afaq Ahmed and Aamir Khan, launched the MQM Haqiqi (MQM-H), literally the “real” MQM. Many Pakistani observers alleged that the MQM-H was supported by the government of Pakistan to weaken the main MQM led by Altaf Hussein, which became known as the MQM-A (Jane’s 14 Feb 2003). Several smaller MQM factions also emerged, although most of the subsequent intra-group violence involved the MQM-A and the MQM-H (AI 1 Feb 1996; U.S. DOS Feb 1999; Jane’s 14 Feb 2003).
Political violence in Sindh intensified in 1993 and 1994 (Jane’s 14 Feb 2003). In 1994, fighting among MQM factions and between the MQM and Sindhi nationalist groups brought almost daily killings in Karachi (U.S. DOS Feb 1995). By July 1995, the rate of political killings in the port city reached an average of ten per day, and by the end of that year more than 1,800 had been killed (U.S. DOS Feb 1996).
The violence in Karachi and other cities began abating in 1996 as soldiers and police intensified their crackdowns on the MQM-A and other groups (Jane’s 14 Feb 2003). Pakistani forces resorted to staged “encounter killings” in which they would shoot MQM activists and then allege that the killings took place during encounters with militants (U.S. DOS Feb 1996). Following a crackdown in 1997, the MQM-A adopted its present name, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or United National Movement, which also has the initials MQM (HRW Dec 1997).
MQM-A leader Hussein fled in 1992 to Britain, where he received asylum in 1999 (Jane’s 14 Feb 2003). The MQM-A is not on the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations (U.S. DOS 23 May 2003).
While the multifaceted nature of the violence in Sindh province in the 1980s and 1990s at times made it difficult to pinpoint specific abuses by the MQM-A, the group routinely was implicated in rights abuses. In 1992 after the Sindh government called in the army to crack down on armed groups in the province, facilities were discovered that allegedly were used by the MQM-A to torture and at times kill dissident members and activists from rival groups. In 1996, Amnesty International said that the PPP and other parties were reporting that some of their activists had been tortured and killed by the MQM-A (AI 1 Feb 1996).
The MQM-A and other factions also have been accused of trying to intimidate journalists. In one of the most flagrant cases, in 1990 MQM leader Hussein publicly threatened the editor of the monthly NEWSLINE magazine after he published an article on the MQM’s alleged use of torture against dissident members (U.S. DOS Feb 1991). The following year, a prominent journalist, Zafar Abbas, was severely beaten in Karachi in an attack that was widely blamed on MQM leaders angered over articles by Abbas describing the party’s factionalization. The same year, MQM activists assaulted scores of vendors selling DAWN, Pakistan’s largest English-language newspaper, and other periodicals owned by Herald Publications (U.S. DOS Feb 1992).
The MQM-A has also frequently called strikes in Karachi and other cities in Sindh province and used killings and other violence to keep shops closed and people off the streets. During strikes, MQM-A activists have ransacked businesses that remained open and attacked motorists and pedestrians who ventured outside (U.S. DOS Feb 1996; Jane’s 14 Feb 2003).
The MQM-A allegedly raises funds through extortion, narcotics smuggling, and other criminal activities. In addition, Mohajirs in Pakistan and overseas provide funds to the MQM-A through charitable foundations (Jane’s 14 Feb 2003).
Since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States, the MQM-A has been increasingly critical of Islamic militant groups in Pakistan. The MQM-A, which generally has not targeted Western interests, says that it supports the global campaign against terrorism (Jane’s 14 Feb 2003).
This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.