PAKISTAN REPEATS ELECTION

Killing of official inhibits voter turnout in Karachi

5/20/2013
NEW YORK TIMES
Pakistan-Election

Pakistani women line up to cast ballots during a repolling for the general elections in a Karachi district. The shooting death of a party co-founder kept many home.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pakistani women line up to cast ballots during a repolling for the general elections in a Karachi district. The shooting death of a party co-founder kept many home.
Pakistani women line up to cast ballots during a repolling for the general elections in a Karachi district. The shooting death of a party co-founder kept many home.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Voters in an upscale district of the city of Karachi turned out in low numbers Sunday for a repeat of the parliamentary election one day after a prominent official in Imran Khan’s political party was gunned down in the area, officials said.

The district was a focus for accusations of election fraud during national voting May 11 and voting there was suspended early that day after reports of violent intimidation.

Mr. Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which has made gains among affluent Karachi voters, blamed the dominant party in the city, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, of trying to head off his supporters from the polls.

Late Saturday, a co-founder of Mr. Khan’s party, Zahra Shahid Hussain, 60, was shot dead outside her home in the same district.

Police described the shooting as an attempted robbery gone awry, but Mr. Khan and other party leaders blamed the MQM party — an accusation that MQM officials denied.

Mr. Khan directly held Altaf Hussain, the leader of MQM who lives in London and is sought for questioning or arrest in Pakistan on several charges, responsible for the killing.

Mr. Khan said Altaf Hussain “had openly threatened PTI workers and leaders through public broadcasts.”

It was another example of how violence and politics are intertwined in Karachi, a sprawling port metropolis that long has been riven by political turf wars that leave staggering body counts.

The killing Saturday greatly reduced voter turnout, despite the presence of Army troops within polling places, officials said.