KARACHI, Pakistan, Aug. 29 (UPI) — Pakistani government troops entered Karachi neighborhoods, attempting to quell gang-war violence that has claimed almost 1,000 lives this year, officials said.
Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has called the war between political gangs divided on ethnic lines in Pakistan’s largest city the country’s “greatest challenge,” Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported Monday.
The warfare has set a gang associated with the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, the party of President Asif Ali Zardari, against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, headed by Altaf Hussain, who lives in exile in London.
The MQM has long held power in Karachi but it is being challenged by the PPP and a third group, the Awami National party, which represents the city’s large ethnic Pashtun population, originally from northwest Pakistan.
“The MQM doesn’t want to share the cake,” a senior security official in Karachi said. “But the others want their slice.”
The parties all take their power from different ethnic groups, and each has a following in the criminal underworld, with the criminal elements in the city being divided along the same ethnic lines, the Guardian reported.