Curfew imposed in Karachi to curb violence

Target killings have claimed at least 40 lives in last five days in Karachi.

Updated: Jan 16, 2011, 21:10 PM IST

Islamabad: Curfew was imposed Sunday in sensitive areas of this southern port city in a desperate attempt to curb violence and target killings that have claimed at least 40 lives in the last five days, a minister said.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced the decision after a meeting with Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah.

Malik has been in Karachi for the last three days and held parleys with the power brokers of the city such as the representatives of Urdu-speaking people Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP), which represents Pashto-speaking group.

"It has been decided that curfew would be imposed in violent areas and search operation will be conducted jointly by police and the (paramilitary) Rangers. This will help improve the situation," Malik told reporters.

Without naming anybody, he said "some external force is behind this unrest to strike at the financial backbone of the country". "I want to make it clear that we`ll not tolerate it and get to the real culprits", he vowed.

Sindh chief minister Shah said: "Desperate situations call for desperate step and we hope that new security regime would clamp down the violence. The police is making it`s best effort and some headway has been made in investigations."

Karachi, Pakistan`s financial hub, has been a victim of target killing for more than a decade as the MQM and ANP continue to wrestle in a violent power struggle for the city. Since both ANP and MQM are allies with the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the present regime, the task of restoring peace in the city has become all the more tedious.

The death toll in the first fortnight of 2011 has already crossed over 60 as the ordinary citizens and business activity continues to suffer relentlessly.

Last year, more than 1,300 people were killied in various incidents of target killing in Karachi, while the toll since 1986 is reported to be in excess of 10,000.

IANS