Targeted Killings, Election Violence Leave 33 Dead in Karachi

Officials Slam Media for Reports About Anti-Riot Operations

by Jason Ditz, October 17, 2010

The on-again, off-again riots in the major Pakistani city of Karachi are on again today, following disputes over an election and a series of targeted killings by the various factions in the city, which are forever at one another’s throats.

At least 33 people have been killed so far over the weekend, and 50 others are reported to have been wounded as Pakistani security forces continue to unsuccessfully bring the violence under control.

The attacks are the first major riot in Karachi in almost a month, an uncharacteristically long period of calm for a city that saw three major riots in the month of August alone, and has been facing seemingly endless clashes between the MQM and Awami National Parties.

The Provincial Home Minister condemned the latest violence in Karachi but primarily condemned the media for the security forces’ inability to quell the unrest, saying that the media, in even calling the security operations “operations” was being deliberately provcative and riling people to doubt the good will of the police.

The political clashes have an ethnic and religious backdrop, as the ANP is a predominantly Pashtun party mainly popular with the strongly religious transplants from the northwest part of the country. The MQM, on the other hand, is a secular party popular with the city’s more liberal, Urdu speaking residents.

Both sides seem to believe that no peaceful solution exists, but interestingly enough both sides have also appeared keen to have the military seize control of the city, apparently believing the military will side with them over their rivals. MQM officials have gone so far as to openly advocate a military coup d’etat nationwide to oust the current ruling bloc.

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