Tension prevailed in Karachi, as at least 29 people were killed in two days of violence as polling was conducted for a state assembly seat on Sunday.
Most of those killed were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in what politicians describe as targeted shootings. The dead either belonged to the Karachi-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement or the Pashtoon-dominated Awami National Party.
On Saturday, the Awami National Party announced that it would boycott the polling on PS-94, a seat which was left empty after the incumbent was also killed in a targeted attack earlier this year.
The violence is yet another challenge for the government of President Zardari, as both the MQM and the ANP are coalition partners of the ruling party. Both have accused the government of siding with the other.
The MQM has now threatened to quit the coalition as the government mulled over a security operation against political activists involved in the violence.
The MQM’s threat comes at an interesting time for the Zardari government that is fighting for its survival. Earlier this week, the government and Supreme Court were once again at loggerheads with the chief justice accusing the government of conspiring against the judiciary.
Last week, President Zardari had also hinted that the army was behind some of the political drama that was going on in Islamabad.
He has condemned dictators past and would-be dictators of conspiring against democracy.