KARACHI, May 13: There was no respite from violence for the provincial metropolis on Sunday. Another seven people were killed and scores others injured, raising the death toll in two days of mayhem to 41.
With paramilitary Rangers and other law-enforcement personnel failing to control the situation, the provincial government ordered Rangers to deploy more personnel and empowered the paramilitary force to ‘shoot to kill’ anyone involved in violence.
The entire city was tense and virtually paralysed. Public transport remained off the road and there was a curfew-like situation throughout the day.
Shops and houses in different areas were set ablaze and reports of shooting were received from several districts. Fears of a recurrence of riots suffered by the city in the mid-80s and mid-90s forced residents to remain indoors.
Funeral prayers of people killed on Saturday were offered in various areas. Bodies of more than 10 victims were dispatched to their hometowns.
The government’s move to accord wide-ranging powers to Rangers, authorising them to shoot to kill was questioned by legal experts who said the powers could only be used in the presence and with the consent of a judicial magistrate under the Criminal Procedure Code and the Police Order 2002. Legally, they said, Rangers could not shoot anyone at their discretion.
The violence on Saturday was largely confined to Malir and areas around Sharea Faisal, but on Sunday clashes spread to new localities.
At least seven people lost their lives and dozens others were injured in different areas.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which has been directly accused by the Pakistan People’s Party, Awami National Party, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Sunni Tehrik and Jamaat-i-Islami of targeting and killing their workers and supporters of their parties, claimed that ‘a conspiracy’ was being hatched against people from other provinces living in Karachi and to incite ethnic riots.
All the parties supported the strike call for Monday and said that shops and markets would remain closed.