Bhutto gags press as killers run amok toll spirals

After the Pakistani police have collected the corpses from a day's violence in Karachi - the tortured body tied up in a sack and left in a rickshaw, the mechanic who was killed when a badly aimed grenade fell inside his garage, and a dozen other victims scattered around this city - the paperwork comes easy. Every police report filed these days on a murder in Karachi routinely blames a man who is a thousand miles away in London: Altaf Hussain.

Mr Hussain is the most implacable enemy of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto. A fiery man with a moustache, Mr Hussain, 41, is leader of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM), which represents more than 20 million descendants of the Indian Muslims who left after the 1947 Partition to join in the dream of an Islamic republic in Pakistan. Today, many Mohajirs claim they are made to feel like unwanted trespassers by native Pakistanis. "They are hunting Mohajirs like birds and animals. They have a licence to kill us," he recently declared.

Through Interpol, Pakistan on Wednesday issued a demand for Mr Hussain's extradition. It is doubtful that Britain will oblige; no extradition treaty exists between Pakistan and Britain, which is why Mr Hussain took up exile in London. Mr Hussain is accused of "terrorism", of stirring up an ethnic revolt in Karachi, one which has left more than 800 dead in the past six months and brought Pakistan's largest city to the edge of civil war.

Few aside from Ms Bhutto think that the city's ethnic strife would miraculously vanish even if she could lock up Mr Hussain. All the evidence shows the contrary: that only by talking with Mr Hussain and other MQM leaders, who are either jailed or in hiding, can Ms Bhutto's government hope to restore peace in this city of 12 million people. Ms Bhutto, however, is heading in the opposite direction. She indirectly accuses the MQM of being infiltrated by Indian agents and wants the party to be declared a "terrorist insurgency".

Invoking a law from the old days of martial rule, Ms Bhutto yesterday slapped a 60-day ban on six Urdu-language newspapers, read by the Mohajir community. The newspapers reporting on Karachi's carnage were too "sensationalistic" and inflamed ethnic hatreds, Interior Ministry officials said.

One angry journalist commented: "Instead of using the courts, Bhutto resorted to a draconian law that is so sweeping in its powers it can even make it illegal for a husband to sit on the same couch with his wife." Journalists working for other national papers were deciding whether to go on strike to force Ms Bhutto to lift the ban or to challenge her legally.

On a day which most traumatised Karachites would describe as calm, more than 15 people were killed yesterday in various sniper shootings and gun battles around the city. This time, however, there are signs that other ethnic groups - the Punjabis, the Pathans and the Baluchis - who so far have stayed clear of the security forces' battle with the Mohajirs, are being drawn into the fray.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Graduate Media Assistant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before