Pakistan, transport workers riot
Islamabad (dpa) - One person was killed when a strike by transport workers, mainly belonging to the ethnic Pushtoon community, turned violent Friday in Pakistan's port city of Karachi.
Violence flared in the city of more than 12 million people after the striking transport workers torched a police checkpoint and four vehicles in the Sohrab Goth area where all the bus bays and truck terminals are centred.
Law enforcement agencies used teargas to disperse the protesters when they burnt tires and stoned vehicles in a bid to block the main highway linking the capital of Pakistan's southern Sindh province with other parts of the country.
The Pakhtoon Action Committee (PAC), representing ethnic groups in the tribal regions of Pakistan, has given the strike call, seeking equal rights for the "oppressed community".
The committee had been demanding compensation for transport vehicles burnt in 1995 riots in the industrial hub of the country.
Sindh Home Adviser Wasim Akhtar confirmed that a man was killed after the protesters opened fire during the demonstrations. He told journalists that the violent transporters also ransacked shops.
However, Akhtar suspected some "political motives" behind the Friday's unrest in Karachi, saying the provincial government was working on the committee's demands and had also paid two million rupees (33,000 US dollars) to the PAC as compensation for the gutted vehicles.
Claiming the strike was peaceful, PAC chairman Shahi Saeed alleged that authorities in plain clothes resorted to rioting to cause a setback in their struggle. He also condemned the arrest of more than 50 protesters.
Saeed said the Pushtoon people, who had moved to urban areas in search of better livelihoods, were facing discrimination. According to him, children from the Pushtoon community are denied educational facilities.
He also criticised the condition of providing documented proof of their citizenship for getting registered in the country's new electronic database.
A large number of Pushtoon refugees from neighbouring Afghanistan have been living in Pakistan without any official documents validating their stay.
Meanwhile, two universities called off their examinations scheduled for Friday in the wake of the violence. // © 2006 DPA