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Pakistani official quits over city’s violence

Associated Press / August 29, 2011

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ISLAMABAD - A ruling party minister in Pakistan’s violence-plagued city of Karachi resigned yesterday, charging that the city’s largest political party was behind the bloodshed and its leader was a “killer,’’ allegations that could spark more trouble.

Holding a copy of the Koran, Zulfikar Mirza accused the powerful Muttahida Qaumi Movement of being responsible for the kidnapping, extortion, and violence that has killed more than 400 people since July. He also accused the party of killing journalist Wali Khan Babar earlier this year.

“I am saying it openly that the MQM killed him,’’ he told a news conference. He singled out movement leader Altaf Hussein, who critics say runs the party like a cult from his home in London, as a “killer’’ and head of a “terrorist organization.’’

In a statement, the organization said Mirza himself was a patron of murderers and his remarks were a “heinous bid to spark the fire of hatred, violence, and insurgency.’’

Karachi, Pakistan’s economic hub and largest city, has long been plagued by ethnic and political bloodshed, but the current surge has been particularly prolonged.

Analysts say the Muttahida Qaumi Movement is involved in a turf war with another political force in the city, the Awami National Party, and the Pakistan Peoples Party, of which Mirza was a member. Killers linked to the parties are behind most of the violence, they say.

Mirza, who was senior minister for the Pakistan Peoples Party in the city, said he resigned over differences with Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

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