Karachi in Chaos: Altaf Hussain Warns Govt Of ‘Strike-To-The-Finish’

MQM chief says party being punished for ditching the coalition.
KARACHI:  Even for a city that has witnessed its fair share of trouble over the years, a sudden spike in tensions in Karachi on Tuesday caught many off guard and left a fresh sense of anxiety in the violence-prone metropolis.
With Karachi suddenly falling into another killing spree – at least 10 people were shot dead on Tuesday – Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain has sent out a severe warning: If the violence is not stopped, his party would go on a strike – one that would end only with the fall of the current government.
In a strongly-worded statement issued from London in the wake of the fresh wave of killings, MQM’s founder and leader said that heavily armed terrorists and miscreants had attacked houses in Qasba Colony, Kati Pahari, Orangi township and other adjoining areas, looted the households, and then set the houses aflame. He said that the miscreants had been given a free hand to run riot in the city, killing innocent citizens while the police and other law-enforcers remained silent spectators.
He claimed that the sudden outbreak of violence was a way to punish the MQM, its supporters, and other unarmed citizens of Karachi for the party’s parting of ways with the government. He said that the MQM had exercised its democratic right to dissociate from the present government.
Asking the president and prime minister to act without delay, he said that the MQM would resort to peaceful protest, and, in case of failure by of the provincial administration to check the violence, there would be a call for strike that would last till the government falls.  He also asked the Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali Khan to intervene and ask his party cadres to ensure that attacks on houses are stopped.
By the end of Tuesday, a pall of fear had encapsulated Karachi. Aside from the deaths, pillion ridding had been banned, while the troubled areas saw no traffic on the streets.
President rushes to Karachi
Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari was to arrive in Karachi on Wednesday after calling an immediate meeting on the fresh tensions in the city. He will meet Interior Minister Rehman Malik, among other leaders in Karachi. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has also taken note of the violence.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2011.
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