MQM leader’s burial in Karachi sparks shutdown, violence

November 6th, 2010 - 7:30 pm ICT by IANS  

By Awais Saleem
Islamabad, Nov 6 (IANS) The body of Pakistan’s Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Imran Farooq, murdered in Britain in September, was laid to rest Saturday near his ancestral home in southern port city of Karachi amid tight security.

The burial was marred by incidents of firing and arson, in which four people were killed and three mini-buses were torched by irate mourners in some parts of Karachi though authorities kept a tight vigil over the funeral.

Markets in Karachi were closed following the traders associations’ call for shutdown Saturday and Sunday to mourn Farooq’s death and to avoid any possible damage to peoperty in an outbreak of violence.

Most of the schools and offices remained closed. Petrol vends were also closed. Some incidents of indiscriminate firing were reported from various areas and at least four people were killed by unidentified attackers in Malir and Baldia town areas. Angry mourners also torched three mini buses, according to police.

Farooq was killed by unidentified assailants Sep 16 while he was returning home from his work place in London. His body was brought in the PIA flight PK-788, which landed at the Quaid-i-Azam International Airport at 10:15 a.m. Saturday.

The coffin was received by Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Sindh province Governor Ishratul Ibad.

An ambulance bedecked with flowers carried Farooq’s body to his ancestral home in Sharifabad, a thickly populated locality that witnessed the rise of Farooq from being a student leader around 30 years ago to the chief convener of the MQM. From there, the body was taken to the MQM headquarters in Azizabad area.

The funeral prayers were held in Jinnah ground and were attended by thousands of Farooq’s friends, MQM workers and supporters. He was buried in the Yasinabad graveyard.

In the crackdown launched against the MQM leadership by the military in 1992, hundreds of workers were killed and buried in Yasinabad which party leaders now call “martyrs’ graveyard”. Farooq himself went underground to save his life and re-emerged in 1999 in London. He lived in exile with MQM chief Altaf Hussain until his September assassination.

Roads in the city wore a deserted look as the security vehicles whizzed along the route from the airport to Farooq’s home.

Capital city police officer (CCPO) Fayyaz Laghari said: “Five thousand police and rangers officials have been deputed to patrol the city roads while two army choppers are also watching the route from the air.”

The slain leader’s father Muhammad Farooq said the “sacrifices given by his son for the party would never be forgotten”.

Federal minister Babar Ghouri said: “Farooq was the central figure in the party and nothing could have been achieved if he was not there through thick and thin.”

British police are investigating the murder and have released the sketch of a suspect, a South Asian man.

(Awais Saleem can be contacted at ians.pakistan@gmail.com)

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