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Story Publication logo May 6, 2009

Bad Times Return to Karachi


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In the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks and the Obama administration's announcement of troop...

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Despite Karachi's decades-old reputation as Pakistan's most violent city, over the last year this urban economic hub has remained a haven from the bombings and violence reverberating through the rest of the country. But a flaring of ethnic clashes in recent weeks, exacerbated by a the arrival of thousands of refugees from the violence in northern Pakistan, has many worried that instability has returned to the streets of this massive port city on the shores of the Arabian Sea.

Karachi is a migrant city, home to more than 14 million people, drawn from all corners of Pakistan by the promise of economic opportunity.

It is members of two of these groups, Pashtuns from the north and Urdu-speaking Mohajirs — descendants of immigrants from India during partition — that have been engaging in violent skirmishes throughout the city in past weeks.

"We believe that military operations in northern areas are causing the Taliban to now divert attention to Karachi," says Haider Abbas Rizvi, of MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement), a powerful political party associated with the city's Mohajirs. "We believe that it is Taliban militants in these [Pashtun] areas encouraging Talibanization in Karachi and creating the violence."

Reports say that the recent fighting sparked after an unidentified man shot three members of the MQM.

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