Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

Chronology for Mohajirs in Pakistan

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Mohajirs in Pakistan, 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f38c7c.html [accessed 21 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
Nov 1987 Local elections, held officially on a non-party basis, took place throughout Pakistan. The growth of ethnic communalism was reflected in the performance of the MQM, which won the majority of seats in Karachi and Hyderabad, and was also successful in other urban areas of Sindh.
Nov 1988 After the plane crash that killed President Zia, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, and several senior military officials in August, elections were held in November. The PPP established a coalition government with the MQM in Sindh. Following the signing of an agreement of cooperation between the MQM and the PPP, which together had a working majority in the National Assembly, Benazir Bhutto was sworn-in as Prime Minister. Bhutto, who hails from Sindh, is the first woman ever elected the leader of a Muslim country.
May 1989 The coalition government in Sindh collapsed, following the resignation of three MQM ministers from the provincial cabinet in the wake of increased ethnic violence in Sindh.
Oct 1989 At the federal level, the PPP-MQM alliance collapsed as well. The MQM alleged that the PPP Government had failed to honor any of its pledges it made to them. The MQM then transferred its parliamentary support to the opposition.
Feb 1990 Violent anti-government demonstrations in Karachi organized by the MQM left at least 60 people dead and over 100 injured. A curfew was imposed and troops were called in to restore order. The demonstrations were called by the MQM, which represents Muslims who emigrated upon the 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent, to protest against the alleged abduction of MQM members by supporters of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). A swap of 76 rival political activists followed army-sponsored talks in Karachi to end days of political violence between supporters of the MQM and the Jaye Sindh. The Jaye Sindh movement is demanding autonomy for Sindh.
May 1990 A curfew was imposed in Hyderabad, the second largest city of Sindh, following machine-gun battles between the Mohajirs and native Sindhis. The situation deteriorated after the arrest of Qadir Magsi, a Sindhi nationalist leader. The death toll in the city reached over 80, including 17 women and seven children. The army was deployed in Sindh to help civilian authorities restore law and order. This was followed by repeated allegations, which were difficult to verify, that law enforcement agencies favored PPP followers and caused the deaths of innocent people while attempting to bring the violence under control or by standing by and refusing to intervene (US State Dept. Dispatch, February 1991). The PPP denied the allegations.
Aug 1990 President Ghulam Khan, pursuant to his constitutional powers, dismissed the Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) government of Bhutto and dissolved the national and provincial assemblies. Elections were called for October 24 and 27. A state of emergency was declared to enable the President to act in the absence of the assemblies.
Nov 1990 Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Islamic Democratic Alliance (IDA), has been sworn in as Prime Minister, after his right-wing coalition defeated the PPP-led opposition in last month's election. The urban-based MQM, which again emerged as the third most popular party, obtained 15 seats in the 207-seat National Assembly.
Jan 1991 The Hyderabad Press Club held its annual elections. As a result of a boycott by Sindhi journalists, two press clubs are now in existence. The government has agreed to allocate new flats to newsmen in specific ethnic areas. Wounded victims of violence even attend hospitals divided along ethnic lines.
Feb 1991 14 people have been killed and 26 others wounded in ethnic violence. The clashes were among the worst since Nawaz Sharif took office in last November.
Sep 1991 Three people were killed in bomb attacks during a strike in Hyderabad. Native Sindhis were protesting against the repatriation of Biharis, the so-called "stranded Pakistanis" from Bangladesh.
Oct 1991 Life was disrupted in parts of Sindh after a strike call by the progressive group of Jaye Sindh Tehrik to protest the appointment of a caretaker chief minister, Tariq Javed. Javed, who is from the Mohajir community, is replacing Jam Sadiq Ali pending his return from medical treatment in London. The MQM is a partner in the Sindh government. However, the strike call was not heeded in Karachi, which is dominated by the Mohajirs.
May 1992 Opposition leader Bhutto said that an army operation in Sindh should be part of a political package for the province. Speaking in a parliamentary debate, Bhutto demanded the establishment of job quotas for native Sindhis in the federal and provincial governments and in government-controlled corporations (Reuters, 05/26/92).
Jun 1992 A violent clash between the two factions of the MQM -- the majority Altaf faction and the small breakaway Haqiqi faction -- gave the armed forces an opportunity to clamp down on "extremist" elements within the MQM. More than 55 people were arrested, caches of arms seized and "torture cells" allegedly operated by the MQM were reported discovered. Hussain accused the Intelligence Directorate of masterminding the whole incident (Far East and Australasia 1995, p. 833).
Jan 1993 Pakistan has accepted the first group of 300 Bihari refugees from Bangladesh, after a wait of about two decades. While this repatriation partly fulfills a 1990 promise by the ruling IDA to repatriate all the refugees - about 250,000 - they are reported to be far from universally welcome. Native Sindhis, championed by the opposition PPP, see them as part of a long-running conspiracy by the Punjabi-dominated center to further swamp the southern province with outsiders. The native Sindhis are a minority in their own province, particularly in the major urban centers. Conscious of Sindhi sensibilities, the government has promised to house the refugees in Punjab. But few doubt that any fresh influx of Biharis, like their million-plus ethnic kinfolk who have illegally spirited their way into Karachi in the past five years, will eventually gravitate towards Sindh's urban centers. (The Guardian, 01/11/93). Army troops were called in to patrol the streets of Karachi and Hyderabad, to avert a possible ethnic backlash in the wake of four bomb blasts in Hyderabad that left 30 people dead and over 100 wounded. Rival ethnic groups called for protests against the bombing. Political leaders, including Ms. Bhutto, condemned the government's failure to maintain law and order. Police suspect that the Jaye Sindh, a nationalist group opposed to the immigration of urdu-speaking Biharis from Bangladesh, were involved in the bombings (AFP, 01/25/93).
Apr 1993 The Federal Minister of Defence Production Mir Bijrani announced his resignation from the federal cabinet. In the resignation letter, he cited the indifference of the coalition government of Prime Minister Sharif towards issues like stemming ethnic violence in Sindh, the apprehension of the native Sindhis toward the repatriation of Biharis from Bangladesh, and the under-representation of rural Sindhis in the federal services (Middle East Intelligence Report, 04/11/93). President Ghulam Khan has sacked the Sharif government and dissolved Parliament. This follows conflicts over power sharing between Khan and Prime Minister Sharif.
Oct 1993 Following three years as opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto has returned to power. Her PPP captured 86 of 207 seats in the National Assembly. Sharif's coalition won 72 seats. Ms. Bhutto also strengthened her hold in Punjab, the richest and most populous province, and her party, along with its allies, formed provincial governments in Punjab and Sindh. The MQM also revealed its strength during the elections. When Altaf Hussain, the leader of the major faction, called for a boycott of the national elections, voter turnout in Karachi was just under 7%. However, three days later, the MQM participated in the elections for the 109-member Sindh provincial assembly, winning 27 seats (Reuters, 05/29/94).
Jan 1994 Arrangements for a new census have reportedly been finalized. The former Sharif government started the process in 1991, but abandoned it half-way when a controversy arose in Sindh about the potential exaggeration of Mohajir numbers. In Sindh two major ethnic communities - Sindhis and Mohajirs - are engaged in a battle of claims and counterclaims about their population ratio. Both reject the existing census figures as totally off the mark (Economic Review, Pakistan, 01/94).
Jun 1994 In absentia, a Pakistani court sentenced the entire MQM leadership -- 19 leaders, including Altaf Hussain, to 27 years in prison each for kidnapping and torturing a military intelligence officer. The prosecution claimed that MQM leader Hussain's supporters had kidnapped Maj. Kaleem and his four assistants in June 1991 and had severely beat them up, allegedly on Hussain's order. Hussain went into exile in London more than two years ago to avoid arrest.
Nov 1994 The murder of Mansoor Chacha, the Deputy Secretary General of the MQM (H), along with his family, has sparked a new wave of violence in Karachi. At least 253 including 53 police officials were killed and 293 injured from Aug 1 to Oct 31, 1994. Sindh's Chief Minister S.A. Shah announced that the army would be withdrawn from the province by the end of the year. The military operation has apparently failed to end the violence and bring peace.
1995 Wrap-up: Political violence in Pakistan's largest city of Karachi claimed 2,052 lives in 1995, including 121 terrorists and 221 members of the security forces, according to police records. The MQM also called a total of 26 protest strikes in 1995, at an estimated cost to the national economy of the equivalent of 38 million dollars per day. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 12/31/95)
May 1995 At least 8 persons were killed and 14 wounded in violence in Karachi as a strike called by MQM paralysed Pakistan's largest city. Sources stated that one paramilitary ranger and two policemen were killed in drive-by shootings in the western and eastern districts. The mainstream MQM (A) faction called the strike to protest against what it calls repression by the security forces. More than 84 persons were killed in Karachi during May (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/22/95).
Jul 1995 The MQM had indicated that it will hold a strike every weekend - Friday and Saturday - until its demands for more rights are met. Prime Minister Bhutto asserts that the violence is aimed at carving out a separate province for more than 8 million Mohajirs living in Karachi and Hyderabad (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 07/01/95). Amnesty International has expressed concern with Prime Minister Bhutto's authorization to allow police to use "ruthlessness" when necessary to stem violence in Karachi (AFP, 07/05/95). Following the third round of talks between the government and the MQM which began on July 11, both sides agreed to stop issuing provocative statements (The Washington Times, 07/18/95). In a telephone interview with Asiaweek (07/28/95), MQM leader Hussain articulated the MQM demands: "We want Mohajirs to enjoy their fundamental rights in accordance with the population ratio... the government has discriminated against us socially, politically, economically and even in the field of education. Mohajirs make up more than 50% of the Sindh population, but our representation in the federal and provincial administration, the army and police is very small, probably 1%. Because of the gerrymandering of constituencies, Mohajirs have only 15 out of 45 National Assembly seats from Sindh, and 28 out of 100 seats in the provincial assembly, when we should have at least 50. Mohajirs contribute nearly 70% of the total tax revenue collected by the federal government. In Sindh, we provide more than 90% of the total provincial revenues. What do we get back in return? Not even 5% of the total revenues are spent on Karachi and other urban areas of Sindh." Following his return from talks with Hussain in London, opposition leader and ex-premier Nawaz Sharif said that Prime Minister Bhutto was playing "a double game" by pursuing talks, while simultaneously alleging that the MQM is a terrorist organization. Hussain indicated to Sharif that if talks with the government were abandoned, the MQM would chart its future course "in consultation with other opposition parties". Several opposition party members were also assembled in London with Sharif at the end of July. (Deutsche Press-Agentur, 07/31/95). Nearly a hundred participants at a two-day Seminar on "Karachi: Quest for a Way Out," organized by the non-governmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), called for the government to play a more active, sober and mature role in the peace-making process with the MQM. Public opinion also indicates that the government should take initiative (IPS, July 25, 95). There ware heated debates when Sindhi nationalists warned against any appeasement of the MQM. "If they only talk to those who give them bullets and corpses, we'll give them bullets and corpses," warned Rasool B. Palijo, President of the Sindhi Awami Tehrik (IPS, 07/25/95). The Seminar's "Karachi Declaration" called for holding polls in local bodies, one of the main grievances of the MQM. India's Minister for External Affairs P. Mukherjee described Pakistani charges of New Delhi's involvement in the continuing violence in Karachi as "absolutely baseless." He was asked to comment on allegations levelled by the Pakistani President and Premier Bhutto that Pakistan had "apprehended Indian-trained terrorists" in Karachi (News & Record, 07/25/95). Pakistan is preparing a formal extradition order for Javed Langhra, an MQM activist accused of operating a training camp near Lucknow in north India. Pakistan ordered the closure of the Indian consulate-general in Karachi last January, accusing its staff of involvement in the violence (Reuters, 07/24/95). Pakistan has canceled the publishing licenses of at least 122 newspapers and other publications in Karachi, an industry spokesman said (Reuters, 07/03/95). The move follows the recent suspension of six Urdu-language evening newspapers for alleged sensational reporting on violence in Karachi. Three people were killed and five wounded in separate incidents of violence in Karachi's District South, a stronghold of Baluch nationals who support Bhutto's ruling PPP. Violence has so far left more than 1,200 people dead this year, including around 270 in July alone.
Aug 1995 27 people, including a magistrate and his armed guard, were killed in Karachi in a fresh wave of violence. Authorities describe the violence as revenge killings for the recent death of Farooq Dada, whom authorities state was the head of a MQM terrorist squad. Dada and three accomplices were killed in a gunbattle with police near Karachi airport (AFP, 08/03/95). More than 2,000 have been killed in Karachi since January 1994. Negotiations between the government and the MQM deadlocked in early August when the MQM boycotted the fifth round of talks, saying the government team was not sincere (AFP, 08/04/95). The MQM objects to the government's referring to it as the "Altaf Group" after the name of its leader. MQM spokesman Dehlvi indicated that no talks would be held until the government begins to simply refer to the group as the MQM (AFP, 08/04/95). The MQM has also threatened to demand a separate province for Karachi if the talks fail. The government has issued 21 conditions in reply to 18 presented by the MQM. The government's chief negotiator, Law Minister N.D. Khan accused the MQM of failing to make clarifications on some issues, like Hussain's reported views on a regional confederation, the partition of 1947 and terrorism in Karachi. The government says it wants the MQM to first renounce violence and clarify its political policies before its complaints of discrimination can be tackled (Reuters, 08/03/95). But the MQM attributes unrest to what it calls Bhutto's anti-Mohajir policy. The party also wants fresh elections in Sindh, and the dropping of criminal charges against party leaders, including Hussain and others.
Sep 1995 Karachi police destroyed a torture cell of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Alataf Group (MQM-A). According to police, MQM-A extremists often kidnapped people for ransom or other purposes and many victims were tortured to death in similar cells. (Xinhua News Agency 9/3/95). The MQM launched a series of strikes to protest against the detention and "brutalising" of a female MQM activist, Seema Zarin, who was whisked away from her house by police and released after 16-hour interrogation during which she was beaten up. Interior Minister Naseerullah Babar said that that Zarin, 28, was running a prostitution den in collaboration with a wanted male MQM activist, and ordered security forces to "shoot on sight anyone seen with a weapon, or disrupting normal life." The first strike left ten dead at the hands of the MQM, who also set at least a dozen cars on fire. A subsequent strike a week later killed five people. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 9/3/95 & 9/10/95, Agence France Presse 9/4/95 & 9/10/95 and United Press International 9/4/95). The MQM rejected power sharing arrangements with the Islamabad government during the seventh round of talks to negotiate peace in Karachi. It demanded the immediate end of siege and search operations in Karachi; withdrawal of security forces from residential districts; the withdrawal of criminal cases against MQM party leaders, MPs and workers; an increase in the community's quota of government jobs; and cash compensation for families of party members killed in security operations. (Agence France Presse 9/13/95). Bank employees closed 2000 branches of the Muslim Commercial Bank around Pakistan during a strike to protest the killing of bank union leader Usmani Ghani, an activist in the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) near Karachi airport. (Agence France Presse 9/18/95). MQM snipers killed three people while enforcing a daylong strike in Karachi to protest what it called "the indiscriminate arrests and inhuman treatment of Mohajirs during the past one month." The total death toll from the strike reached thirteen, with another twelve people injured. (United Press International 9/21/95 and Agence France Presse 9/21/95)
Oct 1995 The MQM called a general strike to protest the "extra-judicial killings" of MQM activists by the police. Prime Minister Bhutto, in reaction, accused India of training and supporting the MQM and offered to meet the group's political demands if it would renounce terrorism. At least three people were found dead during the strike. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 10/1/95). A group of eight suspected members of the MQM stood outside the Sindh Province Secretariat for nearly 20 minutes, firing grenades at the office complex setting fire to the Secretariat building was set on fire and destroying the office of the Provincial Health Minister. Police believed the action was in revenge of Provincial Health Minister Shamim Ahman, who was a member of the MQM until he switched his allegiance to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party the year before. (United Press International 10/9/95). Three detained activists of the opposition Mohajir Qaumi Movement ( MQM) were killed in Karachi. Interior Minister Naseerullah Babar charged the three were killed by party militants as they were leading the police to an arms cache, but the MQM and local residents claimed the three were shot by their police escort in cold blood. Pakistan's Human Rights Commission (HRCP) later charged the Islamabad government with extra-judicial killing in the affair, noting that the dead had been handcuffed and chained together and that not a single policeman died in the alleged shoot-out. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 10/10/95 & 10/19/95). MQM terrorists shot two people dead and wounded two children and four soldiers in a grenade attack on a security base during a protest strike. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 10/12/95). Army experts defused a 12-kilogram bomb planted in a car parked outside a police station in Karachi. Six people were killed in political violence the night before. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 10/26/95). The MQM called its fourth general strike at the end of the month to protest the death of one of their activists while in police custody. The MQM claimed he had died of torture. The two-day strike led to eight deaths. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 10/29/95 &11/1/95)
Nov 1995 In the largest massacre in recent history, MQM members kidnapped eight laborers and brought them to a house where they were executed with seven of the house's occupants. The attack was suspected to be revenge for the killings and detentions of the anti-terrorist campaign being conducted in Karachi by Federal Interior Minister Naseerullah Babar (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 11/2/95). Pakistan deported approximately 150 Bengali migrants during the first phase of its crackdown on "illegal migrants." The Bengalis were blamed for causing unemployment, ethnic tension and political violence, and the government claimed that they had no work permits. The Bengalis claimed that they were living there legally and that their passports and papers had been seized in Karachi before their deportation. Pakistan also recently refused to take back 250,000 Urdu speaking Bihari migrants who had been waiting for repatriation in camps in Dhaka for the last 24 years. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 11/12/95). An anonymous official reported to United Press International that Pakistan removed 10,000 Mohajirs from the Karachi police force, either through transfers or forced retirement. The Mohajirs were recruited when the MQM was in power in the Sindh province. To check the increasing incidents of violence, the government decided to increase the number of police in Karachi from the current strength of 22,000 to 50,000 by July 1996. At the time, 11,000 paramilitary rangers worked in Karachi, in addition to the police. The government said it would withdraw the rangers once the police force's strength reaches 35,000. United Press International 11/16/95). Unidentified gunmen Thursday shot dead Ehsan Shah, the brother of Sindh Chief Minister Abdullah Shah, as he left his home in central Karachi. A passenger in Shah's car was also killed A car bomb exploded in another region of central Karachi, killing one man and wounding another. Officials suspected the MQM in the attacks. (United Press International 11/23/95). Three MQM activists were killed in a gun battle with police. The three were wanted in connection with several cases of murder and arson in the city. The police said the activists opened fire on police who were trying to arrest to them in Korangi, while the MQM said its members were killed in cold blood. (Agence France Presse 11/27/95)
Dec 1995 The MQM called its 23rd strike in 1995 to protest a police decision not to allow male mourners to the funeral of a victim of a police shooting, forcing female mourners to carry the coffin. The police said that male mourners could be seen in published newspaper photos of the funeral. Three people were killed in the night leading up to the strike. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 12/3/95). About 100 MQM supporters demonstrated outside the UN building in New York to bring attention to the plight of the Mohajir in Pakistan, especially in light of published reports of a government plot to assassinate Altaf Hussein, the MQM leader. (Inter Press Service 12/8/95). The MQM called a strike to protest the arrest of the brother and nephew of exiled MQM leader Altaf Hussein by the paramilitary Rangers. The Rangers denied arresting the two men. Their bodies were found the following day, prompting an investigation by Prime Minister Bhutto. Since neither of the men were politically involved, and Hussein's brother was an elderly man, the MQM called the arrests a violation of human rights. (United Press International 12/9/95 and Xinhua News Agency 12/10/95). A united front of religious parties calling itself the Milli Yekjehati (national solidarity) Council (MYC), called a strike to encourage early elections. The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League party, and the MQM both supported the strike. (Agence France Presse 12/29/95)
Jan 1996 On New Year's Day, MQM snipers killed 14 persons, including five law enforcers and five members of a family. Police claimed to have killed the five people responsible for the deaths of the two soldiers and two police officers the following day, stating that they were members of the Naeem Sherri group of the MQM. Relatives of those killed said that at least one of the alleged murderers had been in police custody for almost a month. The MQM called a strike to protest the "extra-judicial killings" of the five, leading to five new deaths and the burning of nine vehicles. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 1/1/96, 1/2/96 & 1/4/96). A bomb estimated to have contained 500 grams of TNT exploded in a parked motorcycle outside government offices in downtown Karachi. Two people were injured and eight motorcycles and a car were destroyed. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 1/2/96). Karachi police arrested Syed Yureed, one of the four terrorists who had killed Syed Ahsan Shah, brother of Sindh chief minister Syed Abdullah Shah. Yureed belonged to the MQM (Altaf group). Shah was shot dead by four gunmen outside his residence on November 23, 1995. (Xinhua News Agency 1/15/96). Unidentified men attacked the headquarters of a faction of the MQM with rocket-propelled grenades late Wednesday but no-one was hurt. The MQM Haqiqi accused the mainstream MQM of carrying out the attack, adding that the "Altaf group" was feeling threatened by Haqiqi's recent political successes. (Agence France Presse 1/18/96). The MQM called a strike to protest the deaths of four of its members by the police. The police had said the four died during a shootout but the MQM maintained the four died in police custody. Thirteen people were killed in shootouts between the police and the MQM in the night before the strike. (Deutsche Presse Agentur 1/21/96). Altaf Hussein called on members of his party to go underground to avoid "government harassment," claiming that "Benazir Bhutto and her government have decided to eliminate all Mohajir." (United Press International 1/25/96). Police in Karachi said that a handcuffed activist of the MQM was killed when he jumped from the second floor of a building to escape from police custody. An MQM leader said that the man was "tortured and thrown away by the police from the building." (Agence France Presse 1/26/96). A total of at least one hundred people died in clashes between the MQM and police in January, including 16 party activists killed in police custody. (Agence France Presse 1/29/96)
1996 Round-up: Five hundred members of the MQM were killed in 1996. (Agence France Presse 1/31/97)
Feb 1996 A senior MQM leader, Ajmal Dehlvi, announced that the MQM would lead strikes and boycotts during the February World Cup soccer games unless Pakistan's government stopped arresting and killing MQM members. (Agence France Presse 2/2/96). Kunwar Khalid Yunus, leader of the MQM and a former member of Parliament, escaped police custody and requested asylum in the US embassy. He claimed that he had been tortured during his two years in custody on charges of murder. The US released him after Pakistan assured the US ambassador that he would not be tortured or killed. (United Press International 2/15/96). The MQM called for a strike to protest the killings of eleven of its members. Police claimed four of the men were killed in crossfire during a shootout, and the other seven killed during a raid on an alleged torture center for MQM dissidents. The MQM said that the eleven had died while in police custody. (United Press International 2/16/96). Prime Minister Bhutto offered to hold municipal elections - one of the MQM's key demands - if the group would stop "killings" for six months. (Agence France Presse 2/24/96)
Mar 1996 Security forces killed MQM terrorist Naeem Sharry - the third most wanted MQM member - in a predawn raid on his Karachi hideout. The deaths of Sharry and another MQM member in the hideout prompted a general strike later that month. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 3/11/96 & 3/14/96)
Apr 1996 The MQM called a strike to protest the killing of six of its members in separate incidents in the previous week. About 250 people staged a demonstration against the strike outside the MQM office in the party stronghold of Azizabad. The demonstrators held the banner of Sindh Ittehad Tehrik (SIT) and were heavily protected by police. About 250 people have been killed in Mohajir political violence since Jan. 1, 1996. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 4/3/96). A bomb placed near the gas tank of an inter-city bus detonated near Lahore, Punjab province, killing 52 people. Prime Minister Bhutto had hinted that MQM terrorists fleeing the crackdown in Karachi might be responsible. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 4/28/96)
May 1996 The MQM called a strike to protest the killing of five of its members in a shootout the week before. A policeman was also killed in the shootout. An MQM office was attacked by unidentified persons days before. Two ambulances and a bus were also set ablaze. No casualties were reported. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 5/12/96). MQM leader Shoaib Bokhari ruled out any further peace talks with the Pakistani government until its conditions - withdrawal of paramilitary troops from Karachi, high-level judicial inquiries into "extrajudicial executions" of its supporters and an end to seize-and-search operations - were met. (Agence France Presse 5/20/96)
Jul 1996 At a rally in Karachi, Prime Minister Bhutto promised to release MQM members detained for urban terrorism but who were not charged with murder. Bhutto formed a committee to review the cases of all detained MQM activists to implement the promise. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 7/4/96). The MQM joined forces with 13 main and fringe parties including the fundamentalist Jamaat-I- Islami (JI) to launch an effort to remove Prime Minister Bhutto from power, accusing her of corruption, misrule and leading the country toward economic chaos. (Agence France Presse 7/24/96)
Aug 1996 Advertisements for mobile phones appeared Karachi. Mobile phones had been banned in July 1995, when the government suspected that the MQM was using them to coordinate attacks. Those applying for service would have to provide two references and their national tax and identity card numbers, which would also be submitted to the government. (London Financial Times 8/14/96). The government - in keeping with Bhutto's promise - released 51 MQM militants not accused of murder on Pakistan's Independence Day. Some people were upset, however, since the government had originally promised to release 137. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 8/15/96)
Sep 1996 The MQM called a strike to protest the killing of an MQM activist. Between fifteen and thirty MQM activists were detained during the strike, and one man was found dead. The organization called a second strike later the same week, after it claimed its lone female member was forced to join the PPP to save the life of her son, an MQM terrorist captured by police (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 9/8/96 & 9/14/96). Three bombs went off outside the government secretariat, the cargo centre of the national airline PIA and a market in the posh Defence residential area. Karachi, killing at least one person. Police suspected the MQM in the attacks. Murtaza Bhutto, the estranged brother of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, later accused his sister of having planned the attacks as a pretext for a crackdown of his supporters ahead of local elections and possible snap polls. He was killed in a police shootout less than a week later. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 9/18/96 and Agence France Presse 9/20/96 & 9/22/96)
Oct 1996 Feroza Begum, the MQM's only woman deputy in the provincial Sindh assembly, testified that she had been forced to change her party loyalty after her son Osama Qadri was arrested on charges of terrorism. She also testified to the harassment she received prior to her switch, and she and her son both made statements about the torture he received. (Agence France Presse 10/24/96)
Dec 1996 By this time, Pakistan's interim government had withdrawn 51 cases against former MPs and staff of the MQM who were arrested in police operations during deposed premier Benazir Bhutto's rule, they said. (Agence France Presse 12/18/96). MQM activists clashed with PPP members appearing at a Karachi court to support the candidacy of former interior minister Naseerullah Babar, leaving several people injured. Babar had launched repeated raids on the MQM while in office, but was being investigated for not paying taxes and concealing his assets. (Agence France Presse 12/28/96)
Jan 1997 Pakistan's caretaker government disbanded all special courts set up by previous governments for suppressing terrorist activities in Sindh. The government also terminated all special judges who were heading the courts. Some 21 special courts had been operating in Sindh province. Officials said cases pending in the special courts would be transferred to civil courts. Altaf Hussain, chief of the MQM, had been sentenced in absentia by a special court to 27 years in jail. (Agence France Presse 1/15/97). The Pakistani government released on parole three jailed senior leaders of the MQM: Farooq Sattar, a key leader of the MQM and former mayor of Karachi, in jail since April 1994 facing 78 criminal cases but still pending trial; senator Nasreen Jalil; and senator Aftab Sheikh. The releases were in advance of the February general elections. (Agence France Presse 1/20/97)
Feb 1997 At least three people were injured in scuffles that broke out as dozens of leaders and activists of MQM tried to enter a stronghold of a rival splinter faction, MQM -Haqiqi days before the Pakistani elections. (Agence France Presse 2/1/97). Three people were killed during fighting between MQM factions on election day. A total of nine people were later reported dead. The MQM and several other groups claimed that the elections were rigged. The MQM won 28 seats in the 109-seat Sindh assembly, which gave it the ability to join in the province's government. It gained seven ministries and one of its members, Farooq Sattar, became provincial governor. (United Press International 2/3/97 and Agence France Presse 2/4/97, 2/19/97 & 3/13/97)
Apr 1997 Shoaib Bokhari, a senior MQM leader and provincial labor minister, filed a complaint with police in Karachi alleging that former Prime Minister Bhutto; Abdullah Shah, former chief minister of the southern Sindh province; former interior minister Naseerullah Babar; and three unnamed police officers were part of a conspiracy to kill the brother and nephew of MQM leader-in-exile Altaf Hussain. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 4/10/97). Afaq Ahmed, chairman of the Haqiqi faction of the MQM, survived an apparent assassination attempt when the two kilogram bomb fixed to a motorcycle exploded outside the house of a party leader gunned down the day before. The MQM denied responsibility. One person died and many others were injured in the blast. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 4/13/97)
May 1997 Unidentified gunmen sprayed bullets at a local office of the MQM, killing two and fatally wounding two others. The MQM blamed the Haqiqi splinter group for the attack. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 5/26/97)
Jun 1997 The headquarters of the MQM Haqiqi faction were sprayed by bullets, killing two people working there. A spokesman for the faction blamed the government, including the now-ruling MQM, noting that the attackers were wearing bulletproof jackets and had police protection. The incident launched a series of clashes between the MQM and the Haqiqi faction which cost thirty-one lives and a lot of property damage - including the political party offices of both factions - over the course of the week. By the end of the month, the violence had spawned an unofficial strike - closing down businesses in Karachi - and cost over sixty lives. The complete death toll for the February - June period in Karachi stood at 241, including 149 killed in 84 cases of "terrorism." (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 6/10/97 and Agence France Presse 6/16/97 & 7/4/97)
Jul 1997 Police in Karachi began cracking down on violence after Karachi power corporation chief, Malik Shahid Hamid and his driver and guard were shot dead on July 5. They arrested over 1,000 people, and offered a reward of one million rupees (250,000 dollars) for information leading to arrest of his killers. (Agence France Presse 7/10/97). Unidentified gunmen killed five people, including the sons of a deputy police superintendent who was part of the anti-terrorist operations in Karachi. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 7/11/97). At least four young boys were found dead, apparently killed on suspicion of being police informants. (London Times 7/12/97). Armed men on a motorcycle in Karachi opened fire and killed Asim Hussain of the MQM party and injuring his colleague. More than 400 people including 15 policemen died in Karachi since January. Police detained more than 2,000 people in a three-week campaign to curb lawlessness. (Agence France Presse 7/24/97). The Supreme Court asked officials of the federal and provincial governments to appear before it on August 1 with all the relevant records on the measures taken to combat terrorism and ethnic violence that has taken lives of at least 200 people since January. Following the court's offer, some 16 individuals and non- governmental organizations (NGOs) also registered themselves to assist the court. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 7/26/97)
Aug 1997 Four people including a man and his three-year-old daughter were killed in Karachi when armed men attacked armored personnel carriers and torched vehicles and shops in eastern Malir district. Tension flared in the area following the arrest of a number of people in a police anti-crime operation. Armed youths resorted to shooting in the air, then started stopping private cars and setting them on fire. Police said the arrests and raids on suspected hideouts were conducted to apprehend the killers of a police official, Bilal Jalali, slain by unidentified armed men. Family members of Jalali, who was related to M.A.Jalil, the head of the MQM, blamed rival MQM -Haqiqi activists for the killing. The group denied the charge. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 8/3/97). The Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) changed its name to the Muttaheda Qaumi Movement with the aim of reaching beyond its immigrant roots and uniting the lower and middle classes into an organization. (Agence France Presse 8/4/97 and London Times 8/8/97). Aslam Kiyani, a deputy superintendent of police, was attacked in the eastern district of Malir as he stepped out of an armored personnel carrier. Kiyani, 56, was shot in the chest and died on the spot. (Agence France Presse 8/4/97). Pakistan's Supreme Court decided to form a bigger bench comprising at least three judges to investigate the deteriorating security of Karachi. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 8/5/97). Over twenty people were killed in sporadic violence during the month.
Oct 1997 At least three people were killed and six vehicles torched as unrest erupted in Karachi. The dead included two political activists and the guard of a senior police official. The trouble started after an activist of the MQM Haqiqi, was found shot dead in the city's eastern Kornagi district. (Agence France Presse 10/2/97)
Nov 1997 Masked gunmen sprayed a van with automatic weapons, killing four and injuring nine others. Police linked the attack to a continuing struggle between activists of Jeay Sindh, an extremist group of native Sindhis, and a rival faction from the Muttaheda Qaumi Movement ( MQM). (Agence France Presse 11/6/97). At least three people were killed in fierce gun-battles between masked activists of rival ethnic groups in eastern Karachi. Witnesses said paramilitary troops and police in armored vehicles had cordoned off the area and intensified patrolling in narrow streets. Police linked the violence to continuing rivalry between activists of Jeay Sindh, an extremist group of native Sindhis, and the Muttehida Qaumi Movement ( MQM) of Urdu-speaking settlers and its splinter faction. The MQM factions however denied they were involved in violence. (Agence France Presse 11/10/97)
Dec 1997 At least four people were killed in a wave of violence in the eastern Korangi district of Karachi. The problem started when an activist of the MQM was kidnapped and shot dead by a rival faction. Another activist of the same group was kidnapped and killed, and his body was thrown out two hours later. This sparked the violence and rival factions exchanged fire in different localities. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 12/6/97)
Jan 1998 About 1,000 ethnic Biharis who claimed to be Pakistani citizens demonstrated in Dhaka, Bangladesh, near the venue of the economic talks with Pakistani flags, urging Sharif to allow them to reunite with their Mohajir cousins in Karachi. Most Biharis opted for retaining their Pakistani nationality after East Pakistan seceded and became an independent country. But analysts said the repatriation of the Biharis was bogged down by fears among successive Pakistani governments of upsetting the delicate ethnic balance in Sindh province. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 1/17/98)
Feb 1998 Unidentified gunmen sprayed bullets at a vehicle in which workers of the MQM Haqiqi faction were traveling, killing two. The incident triggered tension in the poor neighborhood of Landhi and police in armored vehicles intensified patrolling in the area. (Agence France Presse 2/1/98). A superior Pakistani court acquitted Altaf Hussain and his 18 colleagues facing charges of kidnapping an army officer. A two-judge bench of the Sindh High Court on a legal challenge also overturned Hussain's 27 years imprisonment ordered by a special Suppression of Terrorist Activities (STA) court. He and the 18 MQM men were implicated in the 1991 abduction and alleged torture of Major Kaleem Omar. The MQM leader was convicted in absentia by the special court on June 9, 1994 during former premier Benazir Bhutto's government. (Agence France Presse 2/6/98). Activists of the MQM and Pashtu-speaking Pathans fought each other and police in various parts of the port city as a partial strike was being observed at the request of Pathan elders to consider the kidnapping of Rifat Afridi from an Urdu-speaking residential area. Police said one person was killed when an Urdu-speaking youth attacked a passenger bus, while another, a Pathan from northern Pakistan, was killed in a clash between Pathans and Urdu-speaking protesters. The Mohajir man charged with kidnapping the woman claimed that she had eloped with him of her own will, a claim she later substantiated. Ethnic Pathans shot the man on his way to court a month later. (Japan Economic Newswire 2/11/98, and Agence France Presse 2/26/98 & 3/4/98). Attackers, armed with automatic weapons and riding in a cab, sprayed people sitting and chatting outside their homes with bullets. The attackers fled the scene of the bloodbath. The violence appeared to be the result of fighting between the rival factions of the ethnic Urdu-speaking community, with the mainstream Muttahida Qaumi Movement ( MQM) saying five of the victims were its workers. The MQM accused activists of the rival Mohajir Qaumi Movement of being behind the carnage, a charge which the group denied. Iqbal Qureshi, leader of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement, termed the attack sectarian as the incident took place near a Sunni sect mosque. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 2/22/98)
Mar 1998 The ethnic Mohajir Qaumi Movement led by Afaq Ahmad ( MQM -A) staged demonstrations in the eastern Landhi-Korangi district of Karachi to protest the overnight mass arrest of its workers. Police arrested more than 150 MQM activists in connection with a fresh wave of factional fighting and violence which killed 20 people, including six workers of a rival MQM, in 10 days. MQM -A is a rival to the mainstream MQM of self-exiled Altaf Hussain. Altaf Hussain had threatened from his exile in London to break away from the government coalition unless the government hauled up the MQM -A activists for killing his partymen. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 3/1/98). At least 19 people belonging to rival factions of the MQM were shot to death by unknown assailants. Angry youths set ablaze 12 vehicles and set fire to roads in various parts Karachi. In one incident, four armed men riding in a car sprayed four activists of the Afaq Ahmed-led Mohajir Qaumi Movement with gunfire while they were sitting outside their party office in eastern Malir-Saudabad district. All of the activists were killed on the spot. Among the four was a central leader of the faction. Later his house was also raided and two of his cousins killed in a similar manner. Both the mainstream MQM and the Haqiqi faction called a strike and day of mourning for their activists slain in the actions. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 3/23/98 & 3/24/98). At least two people were killed and 20 wounded in two explosions in Karachi. The first bomb exploded in a wooden stall below a five-story residential building called Kashif Manzil in the Ayesha Manzil area of the city. One of the 13 wounded from that blast died later in the hospital. The second bomb, also placed in a wooden stall, exploded behind the crowded Mina Bazar shopping center in the Karimabad area of the same district. No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts and police refused to speculate, but the explosions were close to the party headquarters of the MQM. (Leicester Mercury 3/31/98)
Apr 1998 Two MQM activists were killed when unknown assailants attacked a pre-marriage ceremony at an office of the party in Central Nazimabad district of Karachi. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 4/2/98). The Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief, Mr. Altaf Hussain, alleged that activists of the MQM were being made targets of "state oppression" while criminal elements of his rival MQM Haqiqi were being "backed openly." (The Hindu 4/3/98). Unidentified assailants in Karachi shot dead two political activists, identified as Sohaib Khan and Mohammad Umar, of the MQM -Haqiqi. The MQM -Haqiqi faction blamed the killings on the mainstream MQM, which denied the charge. (Agence France Presse 4/8/98)
May 1998 At least seven people were killed in an armed attack near MQM headquarters in eastern Landhi district of Karachi. Those killed include three leaders of the breakaway MQM faction who were attacked while sitting outside a house, MQM spokesman said. Three more people, including a woman, were killed when a passenger bus was attacked in the Korangi area of the same districts. Another fell victim of firing in Malir area. The violence continued through the first half of June, and the death toll exceeded 60. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 5/27/98 and Agence France Presse 6/16/98)
Jun 1998 After over three weeks of deaths, including sometimes daily shootings and several bombings, police crack down on violence in Karachi. Those rounded up included activists and supporters of Muttahida Qaumi Movement ( MQM) party and its breakaway MQM -Haqiqi faction and other political groups. A police official said some of the detainees were released after questioning. The violence continued, and spread to Rawalpindi. The Pakistani government blamed Indian terrorist agents for the violence; the MQM blamed a new government sponsored MQM faction that was designed to weaken the movement as a whole. (Agence France Presse 6/19/98 & 6/21/98 and Deutsche Presse-Agentur 6/20/98 & 6/21/98). The killing of fifteen people - all MQM workers or supporters - led Karachi businesses to close for two days. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 6/25/98). The Pakistan Moslem League (PML) and the MQM passed a unanimous resolution in the Sindh parliament urging Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif not to impose governor's rule in the province. The resolution came amid growing fears that a breakdown in law and order in Karachi, and vendetta killings of over 100 people in less than a month would force the federal government to impose governor's rule. Governor's rule would have meant immediate suspension of the provincial government as well as of the provincial legislative assembly for a period of six months, extendable if the federal government deemed necessary. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 6/25/98). A total of 140 people died in Karachi in June. (Agence France Presse 7/1/98)
Jul 1998 Both the MQM and the MQM-Haqiqi faction condemned the police after over 150 people were arrested in a crackdown on violence in Karachi. The provincial government called on police reinforcements from other areas to further strengthen the existing force of 25,000 police and 8,500 paramilitary troops in the city. (Agence France Presse 7/1/98). The MQM announced its opposition to Pakistani government plans to send paramilitary Rangers to Karachi to help stem the violence in the city. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 7/3/98). The self-exiled MQM chief, Altaf Hussain, said he feared a crackdown against MQM by the security forces and ordered his men to go into hiding. (Agence France Presse 7/9/98). The Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi called a commercial and transport strike to condemn alleged "terrorism" of the mainstream party and arrests of Haqiqi workers. Armed groups went on the rampage, torching a total of 24 vehicles in two days. (Agence France Presse 7/18/98). Police found the bodies of two off-duty soldiers, who had been kidnapped while shopping. Gunmen shot dead a policeman in an apparent target killing as a manhunt began for the killers of two Pakistan soldiers. The killers were unknown, though many members of the MQM were picked up as suspects. (Agence France Presse 7/27/98)
Aug 1998 Gunmen killed at least 13 people and wounded eight in two separate drive-by shooting incidents in Karachi's central North Nazimabad district. The more serious incident occurred outside a shopping-residential complex where armed men riding in two cars opened fire on youths sitting there. MQM sources claimed the dead, who belonged to their party, had been targeted. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 8/12/98). Two gunmen on a motorbike stopped a bus, ordered two people out and sprayed them with bullets in the eastern Shah Faisal Colony area. Police said the two belonged to MQM -Haqiqi. (Agence France Presse 8/13/98). A cabinet minister of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqi resigned from his office in protest at what the MQM termed "the government's failure to provide security to its supporters," a key component in the MQM's joining the Sharif government after 1997 election. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 8/14/98). Gunmen sprayed bullets at schoolchildren celebrating Pakistan's independence day, leaving seven children aged 10-12 injured, and youths torched five vehicles in Karachi. The MQM blamed the Haqiqi faction for the violence; the latter blamed infighting within the MQM (Agence France Presse 8/14/98). At least eight people were killed during an MQM day of mourning for its victims of violence earlier in the week. Those slain included three policemen, two in Karachi and another in Hyderabad, 160 kilometers to the northeast. Another 25 people, including five policemen and a paramilitary ranger, were injured in the violence. Armed youths also torched 55 vehicles. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 8/15/98). The MQM -Haqiqi accused police of "executing" two party activists during raids, saying officers colluded with the rival MQM. Police denied the charge. (Agence France Presse 8/24/98). The MQM ended its alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League in the parliament of Sindh province, and all its members resigned. Party leaders said the decision to break with the ruling party was taken after MQM sympathizers were arrested on "concocted charges" of torching the national flag and desecrating portraits of the country's founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The PML was mathematically unable to govern without its alliance with the MQM. (Agence France Presse 8/26/98). Seven people, all MQM supporters, were shot down in various locations around Karachi. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 8/31/98)
Sep 1998 The MQM agreed to resume support for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's ruling Pakistan Muslim League at national and provincial level. (Agence France Presse 9/21/98). A Pakistani court issued an arrest warrant for the exiled chief of the MQM on charges of attempted murder and arson. He was charged in a case in which a policeman and a passer-by were injured on April 30, 1994. (Agence France Presse 9/21/98)
Oct 1998 Business and shopping centers in central north Nazimabad district remained closed following the murder of a mainstream MQM party worker. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 10/3/98). Seven people, including a leader of the mainstream MQM, were killed in Karachi after being ambushed near southern New Chali area by motorcycle gunmen who fled undetected. Another MQM activist was shot dead in central Buffer Zone area. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 10/5/98). The MQM enforced a mourning-day that turned into a general strike in Karachi and other major cities and towns in southern Pakistan. Gunmen opened fire on police and paramilitary rangers in the central district and injured three personnel. Youths also burnt tires on main streets in the city. Two policemen were among five people shot to death in southern and eastern Karachi overnight. A total of 11 people were killed and more than 70 vehicles were burnt in Karachi in two days. Over 800 people had been killed by violence in Karachi by early October. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 10/7/98). The MQM said some of its members had been arrested over the murder of Hakim Mohammed Saeed, a prominent Muslim cleric and former governor of Sindh. They claimed the PML was trying to implicate them in the murder in retribution for MQM's refusal to support a government. Islamic law enforcement bill in the parliament. One suspect in the murder, whom the MQM initially stated was not one of its members, died in police custody. The MQM later claimed the man, who had been tortured, was in fact one of their activists. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in fact accused MQM activists of the murder two days later. The MQM quit the governing coalition in response. (Agence France Presse 10/26/98, 10/28/98 & 10/30/98 and Deutsche Presse-Agentur 10/29/98). The Pakistani government suspended the provincial assembly in the troubled Sindh province and placed the region under direct federal rule. Prime Minister Sharif said in a televised speech that the decision had been taken to curb lawlessness and fight terrorism in Sindh. Alataf Hussein, responding to the action, urged MQM members to go into hiding. (Agence France Presse 10/30/98). One person was killed and five others injured in a renewed factional feud in Karachi as scores of women protested against the overnight crackdown of the paramilitary forces against "terrorists" in the city. Police said activists of the mainstream MQM and its rival Haqiqi faction exchanged fire in eastern Korangi district hours after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif imposed governor's rule in the southern Sindh province. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 10/31/98)
Nov 1998 Several people were injured when Pakistani police fired tear gas shells to disperse activists of the MQM-Haqiqi who had gathered for a convention in violation of an official ban. Five leaders including Badar Iqbal, vice-chairman of the MQM -Haqiqi, were arrested as hundreds of slogan-chanting activists blocked the road and threw stones. Angry youths burned tires on the roads in protest as hundreds of policemen continued to occupy the venue. The governor of Sindh province said the authorities had refused to give permission for the MQM -Haqiqi public meeting for law and order reasons. (Agence France Presse 11/1/98). Dozens of women supporters of factions of the ethnic Mohajir party staged protest rallies against raids and arrests, which were dispersed by the police in eastern and southern districts of Karachi. Over 300 people - mostly members of the MQM - had been detained for questioning since the governor's rule was imposed. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 11/3/98). A British newspaper claimed that Pakistan was planning to press for the extradition of Altaf Hussain on charges of involvement in 50 murders and 150 cases of kidnapping and arson in a wave of political violence that claimed 6,000 lives in Karachi and the surrounding areas of Sindh province in the past six years. If Britain refused, the paper said Pakistan would press for Hussain's conviction under a British law recently passed law makes it a criminal offense to plan or instigate terrorist acts abroad from British soil. (Agence France Presse 11/7/98). Anti-terrorist police seized arms and ammunition including Kalashnikov rifles, two rocket propelled grenades and a rocket launcher from a car of suspected MQM terrorists. (Agence France Presse 11/12/98). Pakistani authorities sealed off the Sindh provincial assembly building. Though the earlier imposition of the governor's rule had not officially closed the assembly, it had rendered their gatherings moot. Around 50 deputies from the MQM and the main opposition Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) of former premier Benazir Bhutto were barred from entering the assembly. Police threatened to arrest anyone who attempted to enter. (Agence France Presse 11/16/98). Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the establishment of special military courts to speed up terrorism trials. The authorities had arrested 490 "hardened criminals" since the imposition of direct rule. Most of those arrested belong to the MQM. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 11/20/98). Pakistani police arrested five activists of the MQM, including two members of the provincial Sindh assembly, and recovered arms from them. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 11/21/98). Police said criminal cases had been filed against hundreds of activists of the MQM as well as its 17 deputies in the Sindh provincial assembly and federal parliament including the Senate (upper house) since 1992. The MPs had been previously arrested in 1994 when Benazir Bhutto was premier and were released on parole after their party joined hands with Prime Minister. Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML) in 1997. Their temporary bail terminated in October and was not extended. The MQM accused the government of trying to eliminate the party. (Agence France Presse 11/22/98). Amnesty International expressed its concern over the installation of military courts in Karachi and the threat to human rights that they implied.. (M2 Presswire 11/24/98). Mubashir Ali, a travel agent charged with arranging the travel of two suspects in the October 17 slaying of former governor Hakim Mohammad Saeed,, died while in police custody. The police, who blamed Saeed's death on the MQM, claimed Ali had had a heart attack. (Agence France Presse 11/29/98). Liaqat Hussain, an MP from the MQM, petitioned the Supreme Court to strike down a government decision to set up military courts in Karachi to try civilians accused of terrorism. (Agence France Presse 11/30/98)
Dec 1998 Militants allegedly belonging to the MQM armed with light machine guns and Kalashnikov rifles opened heavy fire on the police, injuring seven people including four police. Militants also opened fire on a local police station, but no injuries were reported in the attack. A police crackdown, with curfew-like conditions, ensued after the attack. (Agence France Presse 12/6/98). Police searching for 200 alleged terrorists, whom they claimed were being sheltered by the MQM, began raids in the Punjabi towns of Behra and Kalar Kehar. (Agence France Presse 12/8/98). A military court handed down death sentences to four persons who were found guilty of terrorism and murder. The four were charged with attacking a police party in June 1998 in which three policemen were killed. Eleven others involved in the same case were still at large. Police said those convicted were illegal immigrants from Bangladesh who moved to Karachi for economic reasons. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 12/19/98)
Jan 1999 Seven activists from the MQM, including three provincial deputies, were tried by Pakistan military courts on murder charges. They became the first MQM activists to face trial by military courts since the government introduced the tribunals in December. (Agence France Presse 1/2/99). A bomb apparently meant for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif detonated under a bridge, killing four and injuring three. Police alternately put the MQM and Indian terrorists at the top of their suspect list. A British newspaper later positively tied the bomb to the MQM. (Agence France Presse 1/4/99 & 1/17/99). Pakistani police dismantled a key terrorist hideout in central Karachi and arrested six people after a tense hostage drama and a gun-battle in which a police informant died. Police seized seven Kalashnikov assault rifles, three pistols and a light machine gun (LMG) with hundreds of rounds from the building. (Agence France Presse 1/9/99). The Supreme Court supported a petition opposing the withdrawal of the powers of the assembly's Speaker by the Sindh governor in November. It restored the Speaker's power to call a session. (Agence France Presse 1/12/99). Afzal Anwar, a member of the Sindh provincial assembly belonging to the MQM, was arrested at his home and charged with the murder of an activist from Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party. He was the third MQM provincial deputy to be arrested since the imposition of on Sindh on October 30. The MQM claimed that Pakistan was trying to eliminate it. (Agence France Presse 1/22/99). Great Britain granted political asylum and residency to Alataf Hussain, the exiled MQM leader, prompting an angry response from Pakistan. (Agence France Presse 1/24/99). The Pakistani government under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif charged the country's largest Urdu language newspaper and two other newspapers with sedition. The charge against Jang, the Amn, and the Parcham follows an advertisement placed by the MQM seeking donations for "victims of police excesses" to compensate those "killed, tortured or victimized by the police and other security agencies during their crackdown against the party." The Jang Group of Papers, which published Jang, the largest and most influential Urdu language paper, was also in the midst of a dispute is with the government over alleged income tax evasion. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 1/30/99). Pakistani President Rafiq Tarar issued a decree allowing the government to set up military courts anywhere in the country following their "successful performance" in Karachi. MQM and human rights activists accused the government of pursuing a policy of political victimization through a parallel judicial system. However, political observers felt that more than fighting terrorism in Punjab and elsewhere, the ordinance was meant to rein in MQM's chief, Altaf Hussain, as it provided for trial by a military court in absentia. The Supreme Court was still in the process of deciding whether the military courts in Karachi were legal, and had suspended all military-court imposed executions pending their decision. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 1/31/99)
Feb 1999 All Pakistan's political parties excluding the prime minister's Muslim League participated in a mammoth Press Freedom March held simultaneously in the capital city Islamabad and Karachi to protest the government's closure of Jang Group newspapers. The January closure had also sparked comments from international human rights organizations and journalists. (Inter Press Service 2/10/99). Around 200 relatives of policemen killed in violence in Karachi marched through the city demanding the public execution of terrorists involved in the killings. Carrying placards and portraits of those killed, they chanted slogans against "terrorists" belonging to the MQM party. They also called for compensation for those killed in Karachi, where the violence has claimed more than 3,500 lives during the last three years. (Agence France Presse 2/13/99). The Pakistani Supreme Court ruled that special military courts set up by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to crack down on terrorism in Karachi were illegal. In a unanimous, verdict the nine- judge court ordered that cases pending in military courts be transferred to existing anti-terrorism courts or other courts to be established within the law. (Agence France Presse 2/17/99)
Mar 1999 Unidentified assailants gunned down two activists of the MQM while in police custody in Karachi. The gunmen opened indiscriminate fire on police officers escorting the pair, who were facing several murder and terrorism charges, for interrogation to Liaquatabad. The attackers fled the scene after killing the accused instantly. The policemen escaped unhurt. MQM, held police responsible for the murder of its activists. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 3/8/99). Mohammad Jameel, 28, an activist of the MQM arrested in February, died after being held in police custody in Karachi. A police official said he died from a kidney ailment but the MQM termed his death a "custodial killing," and accused the police of torturing and poisoning Jameel. (Agence France Presse 3/11/99)
May 1999 An alleged terrorist named Nadeem, who was wanted in connection with up to 100 murders was arrested at his hideout in Karachi. Police said the man, who also used the alias Marble, was a member of the MQM. (Agence France Presse 5/29/99)
Jun 1999 A Pakistani anti-terrorism court sentenced nine MQM activists to death by hanging for the assassination of former provincial governor. Hakeem Mohammad Saeed, who was gunned down along with two other people in Karachi on October 17. As anti-terrorism court judge Qamaruddin Bohra announced the verdict, the handcuffed accused recited pro- MQM slogans, clapped, made victory signs and denounced "kangaroo courts." Officials said 27 people were declared fugitives in the case, including MQM chief Altaf Hussain, who was in exile in London. Lawyers said warrants had been issued against them and they would be tried after their arrests. (Agence France Presse 6/4/99). A Pakistani anti-terrorism court sentenced to death six MQM activists for murdering four people including two police officers. A seventh person was acquitted on the same charges. (Agence France Presse 6/15/99)
Jul 1999 The 27-year-old Waqar Ahmed, a member of the MQM, was found dead in the city's southern Delhi Colony neighborhood. Police said the victim was wanted for questioning over several criminal cases including murders. They also said an investigation was under way but that he could have been killed over a political row. An MQM leader, Waseem Akhter, said his party suspected Ahmed was killed by police. (Agence France Presse 7/2/99). The MQM announced plans for an international hunger strike protest inside and outside the country, to protest the "extra-judicial killings" of its members. The protest would also be staged outside the official residences of the US president, the British prime minister, the United Nations headquarters, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and human rights organizations. The protest plan was decided after a key party activist, Mohammad Shahid alias Barafwallah, was killed in a police shootout. The Pakistani hunger strike, which was launched on the 26th, was dispersed by police two days later. (Agence France Presse 7/19/99 & 7/28/99). Around 150 relatives of policemen killed in violence in Karachi over the past few years staged a protest against the MQM and demanded the arrest of its leaders. Police barricaded the road to prevent the demonstrators marching towards a camp where MQM legislators were on hunger strike against the alleged persecution of the Mohajir settler community. (Agence France Presse 7/27/99). Unknown assailants attacked a police outpost in Karachi, killing one policeman, injuring another, and burning vehicles. Police blamed the MQM. (Deutsche Presse Agentur 7/29/99)
Aug 1999 Newspapers reported that the MQM splintered after the resignation of seven key leaders. A spokesman for the dissident group, Mohammad Anwer, who was in charge of party affairs in Britain and Europe, said in a statement the resignations were submitted due to the differences with party chief Hussain. Anwer said thousands of Mohajirs had been "murdered," arrested and sentenced to death by anti-terrorism courts, but that the MQM members resigned because they were unable to agree upon a strategy to combat the oppression. (Agence France Presse 8/2/99). MQM activists staged a rally in Karachi to protest against the treatment of the Mohajir settler community by the government. Several thousand workers of the party, which represents settlers who arrived after the partition of subcontinent in 1947, chanted slogans condemning Prime. Minister Nawaz Sharif. Carrying flags, posters and placards they marched on the official residence of the governor of Sindh province after hearing a speech by exiled leader Altaf Hussain, transmitted from London. The communique demanded an end to "state terrorism" and the persecution of MQM workers by police and other security agencies. MQM leaders said scores of people were picked up by the police in overnight raids. Police denied the arrests. (Agence France Presse 8/9/99). Pakistani police detained more than 500 MQM workers ahead of a planned anti-government rally on independence day. Police said that they had released all those detained. (Agence France Presse 8/14/99). Pakistani police arrested some 200 workers from two opposition parties in a continued operation to crack down the opposition's anti-government campaign. The operation targeted activists of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the MQM in the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad. The authorities imposed a ban on holding gatherings in Sindh, the major base of the PPP and MQM, which are simultaneously launching large-scale anti-government rallies and demonstrations. (Xinhua News Agency 8/27/99)
Sep 1999 Security forces in Sindh were given shoot-on-sight orders against "terrorists" in advance of a planned "Oust Sharif" campaign launched by the PPP and MQM on September 4. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 9/1/99). More than 1,000 Pakistani political activists from the PPP and MQM were detained in a week- long crackdown on anti-government protests, in advance of the September 4 actions. The day before the protest, Pakistani police shot dead two people in Karachi and sealed the city center to prevent an anti-government protest rally. Police claimed the unidentified "terrorists" were carrying material to make petrol bombs when they were killed by a police patrol in the central district. The day of the strike itself remained peaceful, however. (Agence France Presse 9/1/99 & 9/4/99 and Deutsche Presse-Agentur 9/3/99 & 9/4/99). Pakistani police said they shot dead two MQM activists in a pre-dawn encounter in Karachi - but an opposition spokesman accused the police of provoking the incident. Police claimed a group of MQM workers meeting in the Orangi district of the city aroused the suspicion of a police patrol, and when challenged opened fire on the patrol. But an MQM spokesman said the two men were killed in "a fake encounter." (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 9/7/99). Imran Farooq, secretary general of the MQM, surfaced at the party's international secretariat in London after being in hiding for seven years, claiming his life was in danger in Pakistan. (Agence France Presse 9/9/99). Police said groups of protestors from the MQM torched six vehicles by exploding a home made bomb when a police official was also gunned down in a drive-by shooting. Officials said police had arrested 12 people for arson following a string of raids. The MQM called for a daylong suspension of transport and business in Karachi and other cities in southern Sindh province to protest the police killing of two of its workers the week before Police denied the charge. The strike call, backed by a newly formed alliance of 19 religious and political parties including the main opposition PPP, evoked mixed response. (Agence France Presse 9/9/99). Police lobbed teargas against dozens of women MQM activists and supporters of the opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) who were protesting government action against the leaders of a newly-formed opposition alliance. Journalists covering the event were also roughed up by the police. Police earlier raided the headquarters of the MQM and arrested more than two dozen activists, party sources said. A senior police officer confirmed the raid and arrests but gave no details. Anti-government sources confirmed the arrest of the opposition's senior leader Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan along with Farooq Sattar and Aftab Sheikh, legislators of the MQM. Two days later, the Pakistani police released about 400 protesters, including 37 women, after the government withdrew the detention orders amid widespread criticism. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 9/11/99 and Agence France Presse 9/13/99). An MQM activist died in police custody, sparking angry protests and accusations of murder. Rehan Bandhani, 24, died from a heart ailment after being moved to a local hospital from his cell, Karachi Senior Superintendent Hussain Asghar said. The MQM claimed that Bandhani's body bore markings of torture, and added that 25 MQM workers had been killed in custody since Prime Minister Sharif imposed direct federal rule in Sindh in October 1998. (Agence France Presse 9/14/99). Police arrested more than 700 opposition activists on the eve of an anti-government rally in Karachi. Police picked up the activists, mostly from the PPP and the MQM, allegedly to "harass and terrorize" the people to foil an upcoming protest rally. Some 19 religious and political parties, recently united under the umbrella of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), have vowed they would stage the rally in the fashionable seaside district of Clifton in defiance of a government ban on processions and demonstrations. (Agence France Presse 9/24/99)
Oct 1999 The Pakistani Army staged a bloodless coup, removing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and placing Gen. Pervez Musharraf in charge of the country.
Nov 1999 Police and paramilitary rangers raided the house of Afaq Ahmed, chief of the Haqiqi faction of the ethnic Mohajir Qaumi Movement ( MQM). In response to rumors that Ahmed had been injured during the raid, activists blocked the roads, forced shopkeepers and residents to stay indoors and fired their weapons. At least one person was injured and over two dozen were arrested. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 11/25/99). The leader of the MQM, Farooq Sattar, was arrested after surrendering to Pakistani authorities, both MQM and official sources said. Sattar, a former government minister, was allegedly involved in a corruption case and was in hiding when military and paramilitary rangers had raided his house to arrest him. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 11/26/99)
Dec 1999 A Pakistani anti-terrorism court sentenced six MQM activists to death by hanging for murdering two army soldiers after kidnapping them in July 1998 in Karachi. (Agence France Presse 12/15/99)
Jan 2000 Eight people were killed and 22 injured when a bomb exploded in a crowded roadside area in Karachi. Pakistani police have arrested 16 militants with ties to the MQM, but the MQM denied responsibility, saying that they did not advocate violence. (Agence France Presse 1/18/00)
Feb 2000 Pakistani police used batons and teargas to break up a demonstration by the MQM and Jeay Sindh to protest against the elimination of jobs from the state-owned Steel Mills in Karachi. (Agence France Presse 2/19/00). A strike called by the MQM and Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) hit Sindh province following overnight violence in which eight vehicles were set ablaze in Karachi. The strike call was made to protest the sacking of more than 300 workers of state-run Pakistan Steel as well as the mistreatment of party supporters by the police. It was the first major protest in Pakistan since military ruler General Pervez Musharraf took power in a bloodless coupon October 12. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 2/28/00)

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