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Violence in Karachi
14 Bhutto supporters injured

Karachi, October 20
At least 14 people were injured as angry workers of Pakistan People's Party clashed with the police, blocked roads and forced closure of shops to protest against the attack on the convoy of their leader Benazir Bhutto that left at least 140 people dead.

Groups of PPP supporters, some of them waving the party's red, black and green flags, threw stones and burnt tyres at Safoora Goth, University Road, Sachal Goth, Lyari, Mauripur Road and Gadap areas, causing traffic snarls and forcibly shut shops for the three-day mourning called by the party.

In Lyari town, a stronghold of Pakistan Peoples Party, Bhutto supporters exchanged fire with the police while a group of protesters torched a private car in Patel para, tried to set fire to a petrol pump and stoned a KFC outlet in southern part of the city.

Superintendent of the Police in Lyari, Fayyaz Khan said the trouble started when some people, said to be supporters of the PPP, tried to force some shopkeepers to down shutters during the three-day mourning period announced by the party. "The police confronted these miscreants who then fired upon them and afterwards firing started from other quarters which left 14 of the miscreants injured," Khan said.

He said there had also been other scattered incidents of people burning tyres and forcing closure of shops in some parts of Karachi.

Most streets and roads of this usually bustling city wore a deserted look, a sharp contrast from the jubilation witnessed on Thursday when tens of thousands of PPP workers had turned out to welcome Bhutto on her homecoming after eight years in self-exile.

Local authorities stepped up security by deploying additional police and Rangers, especially on roads leading to the Bilawal House, Bhutto's home in the city.

Residents of Pakistan's largest city were hit hard by the closure of most of the 300 petrol pumps, which resulted in public transport going off the roads. Some petrol pumps were closed as a precautionary measure by their owners after protestors tried to burn a pump.

Protests by PPP workers were also reported from cities and towns like Larkana, Thatta, Hyderabad and Saeedabad in Sindh province, which has traditionally been a stronghold of the party.

Bhutto, who had yesterday called for three days of mourning for victims of the suicide bombing, has put off plans to visit Larkana, nearly 250 km from Karachi, to pray at the tomb of her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was deposed and hanged by military ruler Zia-ul Haq.

"We are observing a three-day mourning over the tragedy. The mourning will end on Sunday and then she will decide about her plans," said PPP spokesperson Sherry Rehman. Rehman said Bhutto was at her house, adding, "we are concerned about her safety but she is interested in going out to meet the people." Dozens of people injured in yesterday's attack are still being treated in Karachi's hospitals, where many people gathered today to donate blood. — PTI

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Govt plans new code of conduct

Islamabad, October 20
The Pakistan government today said a code of conduct would be framed for the upcoming general election in the wake of the suicide attack on former premier Benazir Bhutto’s convoy even as opposition parties warned it against imposing restrictions on political activities.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said the government would draw up a code of conduct for the poll, which is due by mid-January, in consultation with all political parties.

“From today, we are starting making contacts with all political parties to devise a code of conduct for the electoral process along with the Election Commission in order to ensure smooth running of political activity,” Aziz told reporters after attending a function at the Prime Minister’s secretariat.

Aziz’s comments came a day after Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, head of the ruling PML-Q, asked the Prime Minister to ban political rallies during the election campaign and allow public meetings only at designated places in view of the threat of suicide bombings.

Opposition parties, including Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party and the Jamaat-e-Islami, reacted angrily to Hussain’s suggestion, saying the government should focus on maintaining law and order and countering terrorism instead of restricting political activities. PPP spokesperson Sherry Rehman said in Karachi that it was the government’s responsibility to provide protection to political parties and it should not prevent the people from joining political activities.

Pakistani media has also expressed similar apprehensions with leading daily Dawn saying government “should make no attempt to use the terrorism threat, genuine though it is, to curtail the freedoms associated with campaigning” in “what obviously will be a very hard-fought election”.

Reacting to the Opposition’s concerns, Aziz said the proposed code of conduct would not affect the poll process or interaction between candidates and voters. — PTI

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Sonia speaks to Benazir
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 20
Congress president Sonia Gandhi spoke to former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto today expressing shock and concern over the late night attack on her convoy. She observed that the cult of violence and hatred had to be eradicated with unity of purpose.

Sonia expressed her deep anguish at the loss of a large number of innocent lives in the blasts that also left hundreds of people injured, according to AICC media committee chairman Veerappa Moily.

She expressed relief that Bhutto and her family members had a miraculous escape and wished her well. She also wished all those injured in the blast a speedy recovery.

“The Congress president felt that the forces of terror and violence possess great threat to democracy and civilised society. It is the duty of all countries to resolutely work against these forces of destabilisation and destruction. The cult of hatred has to be eradicated with unity of purpose by everyone concerned,” Moily added in a statement.

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