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Monday, July 26, 1999 Published at 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK

World: South Asia

Karachi protest at 'police brutality'

The MQM accuses the police of extrajudicial killing of its members

By Idrees Bakhtiar in Karachi

Four senior leaders of the Muttehada Qaumi Movement (MQM) have staged a 24-hour hunger strike at the Karachi Press Club in protest at the Pakistan Government.

They were led by Senator Aftab Shaikh and included parliamentary leader Dr Farooq Sattar and elected representatives Hasan Massana Alvi and Wasim Akhtar.

The MQM leaders were protesting at what they termed the extrajudicial killings of its workers at the hands of the police, and discriminatory policies of the federal government against Sindh Province.

Supporters chanted anti-government slogans as the leaders took their place at a tent outside the press club.

The MQM says the police in Karachi have been resorting to extra-judicial killings of its workers.

Announcing the launch of the protest in Karachi, Senator Aftab Shaikh said that more than 24 people had been killed by police in Karachi since the imposition of governor rule in Sindh, in October last year.

International campaign

The MQM says that it will continue to attract world attention to what it calls the vindictive and discriminatory policies of the government towards Sindh.

Senator Shaikh said that the first phase of the protest, which included the hunger strike, would continue for 15 days and after that the party would launch the second phase.

He did not disclose the details of the second phase and said it would be announced when the programme was launched.

The MQM has already launched its protest campaign in different cities of the world including one at 10, Downing Street.

Last month, an anti-terrorism court in Pakistani sentenced nine members of the MQM to death for the murder of a former governor of Sindh.

Pakistan authorities say the MQM is responsible for much of the violence that has plagued Karachi and has claimed hundreds of lives.

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