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Pakistan death toll rises after lawmaker’s killing
Question of the Day
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | At least 54 people were killed Tuesday and Wednesday in Karachi — Pakistan’s commercial capital and largest city — when gunfire and arson erupted in revenge attacks after prominent lawmaker Raza Haider was assassinated.
The assassination and subsequent revenge attacks highlighted deep political and ethnic divisions in Pakistan’s government and society, which was gripped in outrage and confusion during the hours-long spree of violence.
Mr. Haider was a leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a major partner in the coalition government led by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party. His party consists mostly of Urdu-speaking migrants from India and rules Pakistan’s Sindh province.
On Tuesday, the MQM blamed its main political rival, the Awami National Party, for Mr. Haider’s assassination and violence against party members, saying the ANP has supported the Taliban and other Islamic militants.
“Could someone believe that we would give Taliban sanctuaries in Karachi who have killed our brothers and sons and made millions of our people homeless?” said Shahi Syed, an ANP leader who blamed the Taliban for the slayings.
Karachi, a city of about 16 million people, is a port city on the Arabian Sea through which supplies to U.S. and NATO troops fighting the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan transit. It is also home to the majority Urdu-speaking community largely represented by MQM.
The ancestors of the Urdu-speaking community migrated from India in 1947, when British colonialists left the Indian subcontinent and divided it into two states — India and Pakistan. A massive transmigration of people moved most of the Hindus into India and most of the Muslims into Pakistan.
Pashtuns, originally living in relatively remote northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on the border with Afghanistan, migrated to Karachi after the formation of Pakistan in search of employment and business.
The rivalry between the two settler communities in Karachi is more economically motivated than anything to do with religious or ethnic terrorism.
While the two parties are engaged in the blame game, authorities and independent observers think the Karachi killings are staged by insurgent groups, rather than any of the political groups.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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