A general strike virtually shut down Pakistan’s biggest city Karachi and other urban centres after weekend violence in which nearly 40 people were killed. The violence was triggered by the suspension of a supreme court judge. The protests are developing into a serious challenge to President Pervez Musharraf.
Lawyer Malik Murtazar said: “Our demand is that Musharraf should be immediately removed from his post and he should leave the presidency, and the chief justice of Pakistan, Mr Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, should be reinstated in his earlier position. And a fair and transparent election should be conducted”
Justice Chaudhry travelled to Karachi on Saturday to meet his supporters but was prevented from doing so. Earlier, gunmen shot dead a supreme court official who Chaudry’s lawyers said was a witness in his case, but police said they did not know the reason for the killing.
Shops and markets were closed in all the major cities. The opposition to Musharraf has raised fears of ethnic strife in Karachi which has a history of bloody feuding.