Pakistan army says ready to restore Karachi peace

ISLAMABAD Sun Aug 21, 2011 2:56pm IST

A family rides past on a motor bike as an activist of the civil society group Karachi Concerned Citizen Forum (KCCF) holds a placard along a road in Karachi August 20, 2011.  REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

A family rides past on a motor bike as an activist of the civil society group Karachi Concerned Citizen Forum (KCCF) holds a placard along a road in Karachi August 20, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Akhtar Soomro

Related Topics

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's military is ready to help stem a tide of political and ethnic violence in the city of Karachi, if the civilian government asked it to do so, a newspaper on Sunday quoted country's powerful army chief as saying.

The comments by General Ashfaq Kayani came amid growing calls by political parties and business groups for the army to step in to stop worsening security situation in the commercial hub of the country where about 900 people have been killed in violence this year, almost a third of them in July.

The News said Kayani expressed "grave concern" over the security situation in Pakistan's biggest city and said the army was "ready, if the government called on it, to control the situation in Karachi."

But he also said the police and paramilitary would, if properly deployed, be able to stem the unrest.

"Karachi is the jugular vein of country's economy and it will be great injustice if the deteriorating law and order situation is allowed to continue for a longer period," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Analysts say the army, already fighting a growing insurgency by Taliban and other Islamist militants is unlikely, at least for now, to heed calls of intervention.

The army has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 64 years of independence and is seen as the most efficient institution in the country where civilian governments are largely perceived as corrupt and ineffective.

Karachi has a long history of violence, and ethnic, religious and sectarian disputes and political rows can often explode into battles engulfing entire neighbourhoods.

This bout of unrest is blamed on gangs with links to three rival political parties vying for influence: the ruling Pakistan People's Party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which dominates Karachi, and the ethnic-Pashtun Awami National Party.

Street thugs and ethnic gangs have been used by political parties as foot soldiers in a turf war in the city. All three parties deny any involvement.

Karachi contributes about two-third of Pakistan's tax revenue and is home to ports, the stock exchange and central bank and on Saturday, business leaders called on the army to intervene to stop the violence.

In the 1990s, the army carried out an operation in Karachi, primarily against the MQM, which was blamed for instigating violence at that time.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

FILED UNDER:

26/11 Attack

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Lakhvi's Bail

Lakhvi's Bail

Pakistan court bails man accused of masterminding Mumbai attack.  Full Article 

Mass Stabbing

Mass Stabbing

Eight children killed in Australia in reported mass stabbing.  Full Article 

PM's Moves

PM's Moves

Modi moves in to speed up $300 billion stuck projects.  Full Article 

Coal Unions

Coal Unions

Coal India workers threaten five-day strike, stokes output worries.  Full Article 

Space Programme

Space Programme

ISRO tests its heaviest space launch vehicle, eyes global market.  Full Article 

Peshawar attack

Peshawar Attack

Some Pakistan militants denounce school attack, amid national outrage.  Full Article 

Uber Again

Uber Again

Uber driver in Boston charged with kidnapping and rape.  Full Article 

Discounts

Discounts

Dealers offer gold discount for first time in five months.  Full Article 

"PK" in Cinemas

"PK" in Cinemas

Secret of year's "biggest" Bollywood film is its plot.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage