PAKISTAN: May 12 carnage of Karachi, government should initiate enquiry and protect the lives of citizen

In Pakistan lawyers and the civil society are observing May 12 as a black day in protest of the killing of about 50 persons on May 12, 2007, by a partner ethnic group in President Musharraf’s government. The Asian Human Rights Commission endorses the protest of the people of Pakistan against the barbaric act of violence by the then General Musharraf’s government. Please see the AHRC interventions,

please also see photographs of May 12,

On May 12, 2007, in Karachi city, capital of Sindh province and the largest commercial and industrial city of the country, all the roads and streets proceeding towards the air port were completely blocked by heavy containers trucks, buses with punctured wheels, trenches dug across on the main arteries, and armed bands who roamed the city under the pretext of keeping the peace. Conversely, the police force and rangers were withdrawn from their duties. The building of the Sindh High Court was cordoned off and surrounded by the armed bands who held flags and badges of the Mutehda Qaumi Movement (MQM), a coalition partner in the General Musharraf’s government. The judges of the High Court were not allowed to enter the premises and those that arrived after 8 a.m. had their cars damaged and they themselves were beaten by the armed persons who used firearms against anybody traveling either towards the city, the High Court or the air port. Several persons who were wearing black coats including 12 women lawyers were beaten by the armed persons throughout the day.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. Iftekhar Choudry was suspended by the then general and chief of army staff, Pervez Musharraf, on March 09, 2007. After some days in detention at home Mr. Choudhry was released and allowed to move freely. The Sindh High Court Bar Association decided on April 28 to invite the Chief Justice for the oath taking ceremony of office bearers and the annual dinner on May 12. Aware of this the Sindh government and city district government of Karachi, which were predominantly MQM, decided not to allow Mr. Choudry, to visit Karachi. The MQM decided to hold its own public meeting against the lawyer’s movement and permission from the city district government was given for the MQM rally and public meeting at the busiest road of the city, the M.A.Jinnah road. Mr. Altaf Hussain the chief of the MQM who had been in self exile in the UK for 17 years started provoking party’s workers against the lawyers and chief justice by calling them unscrupulous street vandals. 

President Musharraf later addressed a public meeting at Islamabad and endorsed the actions of MQM in Karachi, saying that the chief justice was responsible for the carnage.

While the violence was going on television channels attempted to film and record the events but some of their vehicles came under fire by armed persons. The offices of two more television channels came under firing and one channel, the AAJ TV remained under firing for several hours. Meanwhile there was looting and arson of several cars and motor cycles which belonged to the staff of the channel. The ambulances and fire brigade were prevented from doing their duty by these same armed groups. In fact, three ambulance drivers were killed as they carried injured persons. Five persons traveling in a car were killed and their dead bodies remained where they lay for several hours at the main artery, Share Faisal, as a warning to people who wanted to welcome the chief justice of Pakistan at the air port. The three main government hospitals, who are allowed to deal with the accident cases were virtually taken over by the armed men and doctors were not allowed to do proper treatments as a result of which several injured died because of non availability of first aid treatment. While this was going on the cars of the Sindh government and federal ministers were moving about freely. 

The Chief Justice Mr. Iftekhar Choudry was not allowed to visit Karachi; he was detained art the airport and three lawyers of the chief justice were deported from airport to Lahore city, capital of Punjab, including Aitzaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmed Kurd, Vice president of Pakistan Bar Council, Justice Tariq Mehmood, former president of Supreme Court Bar Association, Ms. Asma Jehangir, Chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Mr. Altaf Hussain, chief of the MQM addressed a public meeting from London in which he used language against all judges including chief justices of the Supreme Court and Sindh High Court, threatening them to restrain themselves. He also warned that the incident of May 12 can be repeated if needed. The minister of the interior of the Government of Sindh publicly insulted the Chief Justice, saying that he had lost all senses and at the same time he confessed before two television channels that he had ordered the law enforcement agencies, particularly the police to stay away from the streets of the city on May 12. Afterwards, however, Mr. Altaf Hussain denied the statement of the minister saying that he was misquoted. 

The same mayhem was repeated by the workers of the MQM on April 09, 2008, when offices of lawyers were attacked and lawyers were burned alive in their cars. The media, the journalist’s and all bar associations are blaming the MQM for the carnage of May 12, 2007 and April 09. It is an open secrete that the MQM is involved in killings of workers opposition parties and different ethnic groups. Please see

The government of Pakistan still has not initiated any enquiry into the events of May 12, 2007. When the Sindh High Court started its own regular hearings through a full bench on the complaint of registrar of the court, the workers of the MQM stormed the court, beat the judges and locked them in their chambers. The ruling party, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) suffered heavy losses of its workers on May 12 and it had demanded at that time a probe on the killings on May 12 at the highest level, but strangely, now that is the ruling party it has kept silence on the issue. The government is bound to protect the live and property of every citizen and if it fails to provide protection to citizens then people will take the law into their own hands and chaos will erupt. The government should not allow militant groups to operate freely. The government should also declare May 12 as the black day of Pakistan and pay the compensation to the victims of May 12 immediately. 

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-132-2008
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Independence of judges & lawyers,