India takes non-committal stand
The Indian government, which is closely watching the situation, will not officially comment on the spiraling violence in Pakistan where opposition parties supporting suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the government's supporters clashed on Saturday.
"We don't comment on the internal affairs of neighbours, unless they directly impact on India," officials said.
Clarifying the nature of the discontent and violence that led to the death of at least 15 people in Karachi on Saturday, a diplomat said it was "obviously political. It's not as though there's public resentment simmering across Pakistan. But for the first time since Musharraf took over, mainstream opposition parties have got a real issue on which they can mobilise public support," the diplomat said. "It is clearly Musharraf's most serious crisis in eight years."
Pakistan's political crisis descended into deadly violence on Saturday as opposition party workers were shot dead and sporadic clashes broke out in Karachi ahead of separate rallies by the top judge and Musharraf's supporters. Pakistan's commercial capital appeared paralysed by the crisis, with reports suggesting the death toll could rise.
According to agency reports from Karachi, the violence, which began ahead of Chaudhry's arrival this morning to address a function of the local Bar Association and a planned rally by the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) escalated into gun-battles between rival groups in at least six different parts of the city. More than 50 people were also injured in the clashes.
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