Eight killed as Karachi burns once again

April 9th, 2008 - 11:07 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto
(Second Lead)
By Zofeen T. Ebrahim
Karachi, April 9 (IANS) At least eight people were killed and over a dozen were injured as rival groups of lawyers clashed in this southern port city of Pakistan Wednesday. The footage shown on TV could very well have been a re-run of ethnic violence of May 12, 2007 that left 45 dead or the violence that erupted after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto Dec 27, 2007.

Lawyers belonging to the urban-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) were holding a demonstration, peaceful by their claim, against the assault on former cabinet minister and Musharraf loyalist Sher Afghan by lawyers in Lahore Tuesday.

They clashed with another group of lawyers who wanted the judiciary restored by the end of the month.

Mobs torched vehicles and gun-toting men in plainclothes roamed the streets even as leaders of various political parties addressed press conferences exchanging charges.

The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) blamed President Pervez Musharraf-backed Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) for stoking trouble while the MQM blamed the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

MQM convenor Farooq Sattar condemned the arson. “We hold the PML-N, the civil society and the bar councils responsible for the unrest,” he told reporters and termed it a conspiracy to sabotage the national reconciliation process.

Sattar said the lawyers had for the past two years held the previous government at ransom and now were doing the same with this new government. “The lawyers fraternity is bringing an issue, which can clearly be resolved legally and constitutionally, into the street.”

The M.A Jinnah Road, one of the most congested roads of the city where the trouble started, was soon deserted after the shopkeepers quickly closed their shops and fled, fearing more carnage.

Streets in other parts of the city were also soon deserted as sporadic incidents of vehicles being torched were reported.

Ironically, the first session of the three-day-old Sindh assembly carried on with its proceedings even as arson attacks continued.

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