Killings In Pakistan Amid Taliban Offensive

Date of Publication : Thursday 30 April 2009 08:44
The unrest came as Barack Obama said he was "gravely concerned" about Pakistan's stability and described its government as "very fragile". But the US president did express confidence that the country's nuclear arsenal was safe from militants. Ethnic tension was the suspected spark for gun attacks on Wednesday in Karachi, a teeming port city with a volatile history. Much of the hostility has been between the Pashtun population, who dominate the country's militant-infested northwest, and ethnic Urdu-speakers, who are descendants of migrants from India. The latter are in large part represented by the political party that runs the city, the Muttahida Quami Movement. The MQM has been outspoken against the Pashtun-dominated Taliban and has warned that the militants are gaining sway in Karachi, Pakistan's commercial hub. Street violence broke out on Wednesday after two MQM activists were gunned down by unknown shooters. Paramilitary rangers have been patrolling the city's trouble spots. There was concern that funerals set for later in the day could lead to more tension. Meanwhile, the military proceeded with an offensive against Taliban militants in Buner, a district some 60 miles from Islamabad. The army said it had retaken the main town in Buner and that more than 50 Taliban fighters and one member of the security forces died in the offensive. Troops and commandos backed by jet fighters and helicopter gunships were moving toward militant strongholds in the Ambela and Pir Baba areas, an army official. The Obama administration, determined to stop militants from using Pakistan as a base to plan attacks on US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, is asking Congress for more money to aid the Pakistani army. He said Islamabad was potentially unable to deliver basic services to its population, like health care and education.
Story Code: 37621