Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, is tense as it prepares for the burial of one of the country’s leading politicians.
Imran Farooq, 50, a senior member of the MQM party who had lived in London since 1999, was stabbed to death outside his home in Edgware in September. Public gatherings in Karachi have been banned and security heightened amid fears that the funeral procession could be targeted. Hundreds of people have died in political unrest there since January. Incidents of violence have been reported across the city and cars and buses have been set on fire. All markets closed down early on Friday and public transport officials said services would be suspended on Saturday. To quell potential violence, paramilitary troops and police have been deployed and checkpoints have been set up across the city. The government has appealed for calm from all political parties. MQM leaders say the funeral will take place at mid-afternoon in the Azizabad district of the city and they have called on their activists to exercise restraint. Prayers were said for Dr Farooq at Hendon Mosque in London on Thursday. The former parliamentarian was one of the founding members of the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement), an opposition party which is now part of the ruling PPP-led alliance. He had sought asylum in the UK as he was under «threat» and he was living in London with his wife and two sons. Dr Farooq died after suffering multiple stab wounds and head injuries. A kitchen knife and brick used in the attack have since been recovered by police. Dr Farooq’s body will be accompanied by his wife and children on the flight from London’s Heathrow airport.