Pak to impose partial curfew in Karachi

Islamabad, Jan 16 (PTI) A partial curfew will beimposed in parts of Pakistan''s financial hub of Karachi tofacilitate operations aimed at ending a surge in ethnic andpolitical violence that has claimed nearly 30 lives, InteriorMinister Rehman Malik said today.

Malik said a "semi-curfew" would be imposed in partsof Karachi to facilitate operations against those involved ina spate of targeted killings.

He was speaking to reporters at the Karachi airportafter chairing a series of meetings to finalise a plan ofaction to end violence in the southern port city.

Officials said security agencies would decide theduration of curfew to be imposed in parts of Karachi.

Operations will be launched on the basis ofintelligence reports and police and paramilitary forces havedrawn up lists of persons wanted for targeted killings.

Special teams have been formed to trace illegal armscaches and police commandos will be dropped in sensitive areasby helicopters for quick action against criminals, theofficials said.

Residents were asked to carry their ID cards at alltimes to ensure they do not face problems in areas wherecurfew is imposed.

Malik chaired a meeting that was attended by SindhChief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and officials of the policedepartment and security agencies to frame an action plan toend the violence.

Shah said helicopters would be used to mountsurveillance over the city while Malik said a ban would beimposed on pillion riding on two-wheelers.

Several recent attacks have been carried out bymotorcycle-borne gunmen.

The latest spell of violence since Thursday has leftnearly 30 dead, including a reporter of the Geo News channeland a former deputy mayor.

Much of the violence has been blamed on rivalrybetween groups representing Urdu-speaking people and a growingnumber of Pashtuns in Karachi.

The Urdu-speakers traditionally back the MuttahidaQaumi Movement while the Pashtuns support the Awami NationalParty.

Both political parties are members of the PakistanPeople''s Party-led coalitions at the centre and in Sindh.

Interior Minister Malik claimed a "third force" wastrying to engineer a split between the PPP, MQM and ANP.

He did not identify these elements.

"We are not going to spare (the terrorists)," he said.

There was consensus among the MQM, ANP and PPP toexpose forces behind the targeted killings in Karachi, hesaid.

"Our coalition partners, including MQM chief AltafHussain and ANP leader Asfandyar Wali are deeply concerned andthere is consensus to expose the elements hatchingconspiracies against the government," he added. (more) PTI RHL

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