South Asia

Pakistan city tense as Imran Farooq buried

Crowds attend funeral in Karachi
Image caption Many wept openly as Imran Farooq's funeral cortege passed through Karachi

Tens of thousands of mourners have lined the streets of Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, for the funeral of one of the country's leading politicians.

Security is tight amid fears that grief will spill over into violence, although the ceremony itself passed peacefully.

Imran Farooq, 50, a senior member of the MQM party who had lived in London since 1999, was stabbed to death outside his home in September.

Hundreds have died in political unrest in Karachi since January.

Incidents of violence were reported across the city before the funeral got under way, and cars and buses were set on fire.

Public gatherings have been banned and public transport officials said services were suspended on Saturday.

However the BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan, in Karachi, says the ceremony went ahead without violence.

He said many in the crowd wept openly as the funeral cortege passed by.

Dr Farooq was buried in a graveyard close to the MQM's headquarters.

Image caption Imran Farooq had been living in the UK with his wife and two sons

To quell potential violence, paramilitary troops and police have been deployed and checkpoints have been set up across the city.

The government has appealed for calm from all political parties and MQM leaders have called on their activists to exercise restraint.

Prayers were said for Dr Farooq at Hendon Mosque in London on Thursday.

The former parliamentarian was one of the founding members of the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement), an opposition party which is now part of the ruling PPP-led alliance.

He had sought asylum in the UK as he was under "threat" and he was living in London with his wife and two sons.

Dr Farooq died after suffering multiple stab wounds and head injuries outside his home in Edgware. A kitchen knife and brick used in the attack have since been recovered by police.

His body was accompanied by his wife and children on the flight from London's Heathrow airport.

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