Karachi on alert after murder of Imran Farooq

Karachi went on alert on Friday, braced for possible violence as businesses ground to a halt after the murder of Imran Farooq, a senior leader of MQM.

Imran Farooq, one of the founding members of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), was found with head injuries and stab wounds outside his home in north London on Thursday.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned what his office called Farooq’s “assassination”.

Streets in Karachi were largely empty as MQM declared 10 days of mourning and scrapped birthday celebrations for its leader, Altaf Hussain.

“We have taken precautionary measures to ensure that no unholy element takes advantage of the situation and create violence,” city police chief Fayyaz Leghari said.

“At present the city is calm and peaceful,” he added.

Traders and transporters announced shut downs in a sign of mourning.

“The city’s traders have decided to close markets today to express our sorrow over the death. We’ll meet later in the evening to decide about the future,” said Ateeq Mir, the chairman of the All Karachi Traders Unity.

President of the Karachi Transport Unity, Irshad Bokhari, said public transport had ground to a halt owing to fears of “possible violence” in which vehicles could be damaged.

One police official said on condition of anonymity that angry mourners set fire to around half a dozen vehicles in the city overnight.

Farooq Sattar, MQM’s leader in Pakistan, said that the assassinated politician was a leader who “rendered tremendous services for the party”.

He declined to comment when asked who may have killed him and why.

“Authorities in London are investigating and we hope that his killer will soon be arrested and get punished,” he said.

Party faithful have been gathering outside Farooq’s home in Karachi, consoling each other and many had tears in their eyes.