MQM wins Karachi by-poll as toll reaches 39 (Lead)

October 18th, 2010 - 5:56 pm ICT by IANS  

By Awais Saleem
Islamabad, Oct 18 (IANS) The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has triumphed in Sunday’s by-election in Pakistan’s financial hub Karachi where the toll in the spiralling violence has reached 39.

MQM’s Saifuddin Khalid won the seat Monday to become a member of the provincial assembly (MPA) from PS-94 constituency, the Daily Times reported, adding that the results were yet to be officially announced.

The PS-94 constituency fell vacant after the target-killing of MQM legislator Raza Haider Aug 3. MQM blamed the killing on the Awami National Party (ANP), which vehemently denied the allegation. More than 100 people have been killed in violent clashes after the assassination.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has cancelled his planned trip to the US in connection with the forthcoming round of strategic dialogue and has rushed to Karachi.

He is holding separate meetings with the leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), MQM and ANP to find a solution to the spiralling violence.

PPP and MQM form the coalition government in Sindh while ANP is part of the government with PPP at the centre. ANP and MQM have been fighting for political control over Pakistan’s financial hub Karachi for more than a decade now and both blame the PPP government for the recent deterioration in law and order.

The fresh spell of violence broke out after ANP boycotted the by-elections of PS-94 constituency just a day ahead of polling, citing law and order situation.

Though the election has been won by the MQM, the party is also agitated at the killing of its workers in target killing incidents.

Governor of Sindh Ishrat-ul-Ibad, part of MQM’s think-tank, rushed to Islamabad Sunday night to tender his resignation to President Asif Ali Zardari. The resignation was rejected and Rehman Malik was assigned the task of crisis management.

“We’ll not let anybody destroy the peace in Karachi,” Malik said before holding a one-on-one meeting with Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah.

The port city has come to a virtual standstill and there is hardly any traffic on the roads despite Monday being the start of the week.

More than 1,800 people, including workers of different political parties, have been killed in incidents of target killing during the last decade or so in Karachi, which is Pakistan’s largest metropolitan city.

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

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