[The Nation, 9 Aug] Islamabad: The military voiced concern for the first time on Monday [8 August] over ethnic and political violence in the country’s financial capital that has killed 800 people so far this year.
The military spoke out after generals met during 141st Corps Commanders’ Conference with Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in the chair at Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Army Chief Kayani presides over the 141st Corps Commanders’ Conference (ISPR, 8 Aug)
The participants of the conference were briefed in detail regarding ongoing law enforcement operations in Kurram and Mohmand agencies within the perspective of evolving security dynamic. The participants also discussed the security situation in the country in general and Karachi in particular.
“The forum expressed concern over the law and order situation in Karachi and its ramifications or implications on the national economy,” the military said in a statement.
Parts of the Arabian Sea port city have become battlegrounds with authorities struggling to stem the violence.
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) says 800 people, most of them poor, have died since January, including 300 last month alone. The HCRP says the violence in Karachi is the deadliest since 1995, when more than 900 killings were reported in the first half of the year.
The HRCP previously said 490 people were killed in the first six months of the year and on Friday that another 300 people died in July. Much of the violence has been blamed on tensions between supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP).
The government launched a peace drive and sent hundreds of extra security forces into the troubled neighborhoods, and calm has held for a week. The military said recent government measures were expected to “help redress the situation.”
The violence has also affected economic activities in Karachi, the country’s largest city. Several political parties, including the MQM and ANP, have urged the Army to conduct operations in Karachi to end the violence.
Accusations and counteraccusations have continued between the leaders of the MQM and those of the ANP in particular and MQM and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in general. In the recent past, some MQM leaders held the rulers of the PPP in Sindh and at center [federal level] responsible for fuelling riots in Karachi. But on August 3, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani dispelled the impression that government wanted to create differences among various segments.
[Description of Source: Islamabad The Nation Online in English — Website of a conservative daily, part of the Nawa-i-Waqt publishing group. Circulation around 20,000; URL: http://www.nation.com.pk%5D