Karachi, Hyderabad shut down as MQM lawmaker buried

Manzar Imam

Pakistan's commercial hub shut down on Friday to mark the funeral of an MQM lawmaker who was killed along with three of his bodyguards in a Taliban attack that triggered protests and raised a threat of more violence in the unrest-hit city.

Businesses, markets, shops, petrol pumps, and educational institutions remained shut and traffic was thin on the roads as a complete shutdown was observed in the twin cities of Karachi and Hyderabad.

There were no reports of violence, however, and the city remained largely calm even as emotional scenes were witnessed at the burial of the slain leader.

Manzar Imam, a member of the Sindh Assembly, was killed yesterday after gunmen attacked him in a restive area of the city. His bodyguard and two other policemen assigned to protect him also died in the attack.

Imam was buried after the Friday prayers as top leaders of the MQM and other parties including the PPP, PML-N and Awami National Party attended the funeral.

Hundreds of people turned out for the funeral prayers at Jinnah ground close to the MQM headquarters today amidst tight security to prevent any violence or unrest.

With the killing flaying sentiments, Karachites had braced themselves for a day of unrest and violence. However, they heaved a sigh of relief today after the funeral ended peacefully.

Soon after the attack yesterday, firing and violence was reported from some parts of the city where protesters also set buses and cars on fire and four people were reportedly killed.

The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban accepted responsibility for the attack with their spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan warning of more attacks on MQM leaders.

"This is the first of our gifts to the people of Karachi to free them from the clutches of the MQM. We are against this party as it believes in secularism," Ehsan told television channels in a message.

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