Top Pakistan judge urges action on Karachi gangs

Pakistan`s chief justice has told police chief in charge of Karachi to crack down without political bias on gang wars.

Islamabad: Pakistan`s chief justice on Friday told the police chief in charge of violence-hit Karachi to crack down without political bias on gang wars that have killed more than 1,000 people this year.

It is the worst ethnic and politically-linked unrest to hit the country`s financial capital in 16 years, with more than 100 people killed in one week alone last month, leading to calls for the Army to intervene.

"Take non-discriminatory action against those involved in the killings," court officials quoted Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry as saying, after hearing testimony by Sindh provincial police chief Wajid Durrani.

"Whatever the situation may be, whether a person is killed because of enmity or terrorism, police will have to take action and catch those responsible," a court official quoted the top judge as saying.

But Durrani -- himself accused of being a political appointee of the ruling Pakistan People`s Party (PPP) -- acknowledged politicisation in the police force, with the gang wars linked to party affiliations in the city.

"Around 30 to 40 percent of appointments in the police force have been made on political grounds, which is a big problem," Durrani told the court.

Chaudhry opened the ongoing series of hearings into the violence last month.

The gang wars have been linked to ethnic tensions between the Mohajirs, the Urdu-speaking majority represented by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and Pashtun migrants affiliated to the Awami National Party (ANP).

The PPP, which was elected in 2008 after nine years of military rule, insists that civilian authorities are capable of controlling the bloodshed, despite the calls for military involvement.

Bureau Report

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