Pakistan's largest city on edge after Imran Farooq's assassination

By Tom A. Peter, Christian Science Monitor

Much of Pakistan is on edge following the assassination of exiled political leader Imran Farooq in front of his London home on Thursday. In Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, schools and shops closed and public transportation shut down as members of Mr. Farooq’s Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) gathered to grieve.

MQM officials have announced a 10-day mourning period.

While several cars were burned and shots were fired on Thursday, the BBC reports that the situation remained “tense but peaceful” on Friday. However, if members of MQM, one of the largest political parties inPakistan, accuse rivals of involvement in the assassination it could ignite serious sparks in the restive nation.

Last month, dozens of Pakistanis were killed and more than 100 injured in violence that erupted after MQM leader Raza Haider was gunned down while attending a funeral in Karachi.

MQM members have spoken out against Pakistani Pashtuns, largely because of their support of the Taliban. As a result, authorities are most concerned that violence will erupt in the western region of the city that is a mix of Pashtuns and native Urdu speakers, reports Pakistan’s The Nation. Pashtuns make up 4 million of Karachi’s 16 million residents.

Security authorities in Karachi have been put on “red alert” and additional police and security forces have been deployed throughout the city to stop the escalation of any demonstrations, reports Pakistan’s The News International.

Meanwhile, police in London say it is too early to know whether Farooq’s killing was politically motivated. He was stabbed on his way home from a canceled birthday party at MQM’s London headquarters. Police have not yet arrested any suspects, reports The Daily Telegraph.

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