KARACHI: The People’s Party counselled restraint and patience to its partners in the ruling coalition — Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Awami National Party — as fear hung over Karachi after a spate of targeted killings claimed another four lives on Saturday.
The three-day toll stood at 24. A former deputy Nazim was among the dead. Ironically enough, the killings took place after the PPP-MQM talks.
The meeting was held at the Governor’s House between the government’s troubleshooter, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, and an MQM delegation in the presence of Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan.
The two sides agreed to meet again on Jan 20 to review the progress.
Analysts interpreted the readiness of both sides to meet again so soon as a sign of headway in PPP-MQM relations.
According to sources privy to the deliberations, Mr Malik assured the MQM that the government was taking steps to arrest the culprits and that no one would be spared.
The minister sought “more time” from the MQM to address its concerns that were conveyed to Prime Minister Gilani when he visited Nine Zero last week to salvage his tottering coalition.
The MQM side comprised Dr Farooq Sattar, Babar Ghauri, Syed Sardar Ahmad, Dr Saghir and Adil Siddiqui.
Senior Minister Pir Mazharul Haq assisted the interior minister.
The Muttahida told Rehman Malik that the party wanted an end to violence and restoration of sanity in Karachi.
Four political activists were among five people gunned down in incidents of shooting on Saturday, raising the death toll to 24.
Late in the night four armed men on two motorcycles attacked a group of friends sitting outside an office of the Pakistan People’s Party in Orangi Town.
“The firing left five people injured and while they were being shifted to hospital, two of them — Zubair alias Kala and Tahir Baloch — died of wounds,” said Inspector Inayatullah Marwat, SHO of Mominabad police station.
Both the victims were members of the PPP’s youth wing.
In Ranchore Line a Sunni Tehreek worker was shot dead by armed men riding a motorcycle.
The armed men fired multiple shots at Saeed. Four passersby, including a woman, were injured.
Earlier in the day, a senior member of the MQM and former naib nazim of SITE Town was gunned down, yards away from his home in Orangi Town.
In his mid-40s, Saeed Badshah Khan was ambushed by two men on a motorbike in Farid Colony near Baloch Para of Orangi Town outside his home.
In Surjani Town, a 45-year-old man was shot dead in the evening. Police said that unknown men shot at a group of people outside a roadside tea stall in Section L-1. The victim, identified as Ziarat Khan, was hit by three bullets.
Meanwhile, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement said on Saturday that the murder of its former town naib nazim, Syed Badshah Khan, was a conspiracy to “terrorise Haq Parast Pakhtoon activists of the MQM”.
“The killing is part of an agenda to destroy peace in Karachi and is continuation of conspiracies against the MQM.”
A judicial commission will be set up to investigate the murder of Wali Khan Babar and other journalists, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday.
Talking to reporters after a meeting with clerics, Mr Malik said investigation into Mr Babar’s murder had made some progress and cautioned that the “enemy is trying to destabilise the country by such acts”.
“The sacrifices of journalists will not be in vain and the present government is deeply concerned about it,” he said. The government believes in freedom of press and will investigate the matter thoroughly, he added.
He said those who thought that they could hide facts by murdering journalists were mistaken.