Karachi endured a third night of violence, keeping some factories and markets closed, after a spate of killings triggered by the shooting of a lawmaker.
The death toll in Pakistan’s commercial capital climbed to 76 and 100 people have been injured, city police chief Wasim Ahmed said by telephone today. About 100 suspects were arrested in the past three days, he said.
Karachi is home to about 18 million people and serves as the Pakistan headquarters for companies such as Citigroup Inc. and Unilever. The shootings broke out after Raza Haider, a lawmaker with the city’s main party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, was assassinated at a mosque on Aug. 2.
“The army can be called in if the need be but there will be a qualitative change in the next 24 to 48 hours,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik said during a visit to Karachi today. The Pakistan Rangers, a paramilitary force deployed across the city, are under orders to shoot suspects on sight, he said.
“There is evidence that those causing trouble in Karachi have links to the Taliban,” Malik said. “Their strategy is to create chaos in the city.”
Pakistan’s government is also grappling with floods across much of the country that have left more than 1,500 dead and millions stranded. Floodwater is forecast to enter the southern province of Sindh, of which Karachi is the capital, during the next two days.
Factories in Karachi suffered 10 billion rupees ($116.7 million) of losses in three days because of the shutdown, Abdul Majeed, president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said by telephone today. Workers were absent because public transport stayed off the roads, he said.
Wholesale markets have lost 12 million rupees of business, said Anis Majeed, president of the Karachi Wholesale Grocers Association. Supplies will take several days to be restored, he said.
Pakistan is losing 5 billion rupees a day in tax revenue because of the floods and the trouble in Karachi, Business Recorder newspaper reported today, citing an unidentified official. The benchmark Karachi Stock Exchange 100 index was little changed at 10,397.74 at 9:49 a.m. local time.
Political killings have escalated this year in Karachi, which is used as a refuge by militants fleeing army attacks on the Taliban in the country’s northwest. Members of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, the MQM and the Awami National Party have died in multiple gun battles in the city since the start of the year.