At Least 52 Killed in Karachi Political Violence

Police Chief Struggles to Downplay Political Backing for Attacks

Violence is once again on the rise in the key Pakistani city of Karachi, with at least 52 people killed over the past two days, including a former MP from the ruling Pakistani People’s Party (PPP).

Bloody political killings have been the order of the day across the city for months now, but seem to be getting worse again, with the most recent slain including a number of people whose bodies showed signs of torture.

The violence is largely carried out by gangs loyal to the two political power blocs in the city, the MQM (the traditional regional power) and the ANP, a key ally to the PPP with considerable support among the tribesmen moving to the city to escape violence in the north.

The tit-for-tat attacks occasionally pick up steam like this, but a number of officials from both parties insist it is the other side that is wholly responsible. Likewise, the police, who are under intense pressure to look the other way from political leadership, insist that it is largely drugs, not politics, that fuels the killings. Despite this, the police chief of Karachi conceded that many of the slain are being targeted for their political or ethnic affiliation.

The violence has led to calls for the military to seize control over the city, or potentially the entire province, and has also fueled calls for early elections, as there is growing doubt that the US-backed Zardari government is going to bring the situation under control.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.