Pakistan: army patrols strife-torn Karachi

And this is the “stable” country and chief US ally in the region. Interesting how Pakistan’s internal conflicts have spun out of control since the US established it as a staging ground for destabilzing and then policing neighboring Afghanistan. From AFP, April 13:

KARACHI: The Pakistan government sent its army to Karachi on Thursday after unrest broke out ahead of funerals for Sunni Muslim leaders who were among 57 people killed in a suicide blast two days ago, officials said.

Two buses were torched as angry youth carrying sticks burnt tyres and forced shops in the city to close, witnesses said.

Most petrol stations and commercial markets remained closed on Thursday, while the government has closed educational institutions for three days.

“The army has been deployed at sensitive places in the city to assist the civil administration in case of any eventuality,” a military spokesman said.

“It is a preventive deployment.”

The troops were called out as organisers said they expected thousands of people to attend the funeral prayers of Sunni leaders later on Thursday in the volatile port city.

Ten top leaders of Sunni Tehreek including its chief Abbas Qadri were among 57 people killed in the blast at Karachi’s Nishtar Park during a ceremony to mark the birthday of Prophet Mohammed on Tuesday.

The funeral prayers for the leaders will be held on Thursday evening, party officials said.

Sunni groups said the protest over the bombing would continue until Sunday, while a six-party religious alliance – the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal — also decided to observe Friday as a “black day” of protest. The moderate Sunni Tehreek religious party said it had received threats before Tuesday’s attack.

The party has given the government a 48-hour ultimatum to catch the culprits involved in the attack.

Police detained a man belonging to the Shiite Muslim sect who was injured in the blast, officials said.

Mohammad Hussain Balti is being questioned for his presence in a Sunni congregation.

See our last post on Pakistan.