Curb illegal arms supplies in Karachi: Pakistani PM (Lead)

May 1st, 2009 - 11:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Karachi, May 1 (IANS) Terming this southern port city a “mini Pakistan”, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Friday called for curbing illegal arms supplies in the metropolis in the wake of ethnic clashes that have left at least 34 people dead.
Addressing a press conference after chairing a high-level meeting on the situation in Karachi, Gilani asked Sindh Home Minister Zulfikar Mirza to immediately take steps to curb the illegal arms’ supplies.

He also indicated that simmering differences between the three partners of Sindh’s ruling coalition had contributed to the clashes late Wednesday between workers of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) and Karachi’ minority Pashtun community.

The MQM, which represents Karachi’s mohajir majority community, is Sindh’s second largest political party after the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that heads the provincial coalition. The Awami National Party (ANP), which represents the Pashtun community, is the third coalition partner.

“I will discuss situation in Karachi with the leadership of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Awami National Party besides the co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party,” APP quoted Gilani as saying at the press conference.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is the co-chair of the PPP with his son Bilawal.

“The three parties’ meetings must be held on a priority basis,” the prime minister maintained.

If the parties worked together, mischief mongers would not get a chance to pursue their divisive agenda, he contended.

Sindh Governor Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, federal ministers Babar Awan, Babar Ghauri, Farooq Sattar and ANP leader Shahi Syed also attended the press conference.

Earlier Monday, Gilani said a foreign hand could not ruled out in the Karachi violence.

“It can’t be ruled out,” Gilani told reporters in Multan while replying to a question on the possible involvement of a foreign hand in the Karachi clashes.

Tense calm prevailed in Karachi Friday with the police and the paramilitary Sindh Rangers conducting a flag march through the Gulshan-i-Iqbal and North Karachi areas.

Three people died in different parts of the city on Thursday, taking the death toll to 34, Dawn quoted police and hospital sources as saying, though casualty figures varied.

A teenaged ice-cream seller was gunned down in Khokrapar, and a young man was shot dead in Orangi town in the limits of Pakistan Bazaar police station. One man died from his bullet wounds at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) where he had been shifted in the early hours of Thursday in a highly critical condition.

Karachi police chief Waseem Ahmed, however, said that 30 people were killed in the ethnic violence, while the police arrested 50 miscreants and seized 17 weapons from them.

He said the Sindh government had assured the police there would be no interference in its functioning.

“We will take stern action against those involved in violent activities irrespective of their political affiliation,” Ahmed maintained.

Police surgeon Hamid Padhiyar told Dawn that 32 people were killed in different parts of the city and the victims had been brought to the Abbasi Shaheed, Civil and Jinnah hospitals.

Seemin Jamali, the director of JPMC’s emergency centre, said the bodies of 21 people, as also 24 of the wounded, had been shifted to the facility since Wednesday.

“Of the wounded people, six died at the hospital,” she added.

At least five victims of the violence belonged to different parts of Afghanistan, Dawn quoted sources as saying.

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