(Reuters) - Pakistan’s commercial capital, Karachi, faces an array of destabilizing forces, including targeted killings, gang warfare and weapons dealers.
Political rivalries and poor governance make it difficult to improve the city’s image and attract foreign investment.
Following are some facts about Karachi.
* Karachi is the capital of Sindh province and has a population of around 18 million.
* Mohajirs, descendants of Urdu-speakers who migrated from India after the creation of Pakistan in 1947, are the biggest community and dominate the city’s politics through the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
* Karachi is also home to the largest concentration of ethnic Pashtuns outside Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. According to some estimates, more than 3.5 million Pashtuns live in the city.
* It is home to the central bank and main stock exchange and is also the country’s main industrial base.
* The country’s two main ports are in Karachi and most foreign companies investing in Pakistan have offices there.
* Karachi has a long history of ethnic, religious and sectarian violence. It was a main target of al Qaeda-linked militants after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States when Pakistan joined the U.S.-led campaign against militancy, and foreigners were attacked in the city several times.
* One of Pakistan’s worst bomb attacks was in Karachi in October 2007 during a welcome rally for self-exiled, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. About 140 people were killed. Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi just over two months later.
* Things have been relatively calm over the past two years as militants have focused on cities in the north and across the northwest. But several bombings this year fueled concerns that militants were expanding their fight to the city.
In a brazen attack last week, a suspected Pakistan Taliban suicide car bombing demolished a crime investigation department compound where senior militants were interrogated.
At least 18 people were killed and 100 wounded.
* The MQM, which mostly represents Mohajirs, is the dominant political force. In a 2008 general election, it won 17 of 19 National Assembly seats in the city, while the other two went to President Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party
* The MQM is also part of a provincial coalition government led by the PPP and is allied with the PPP at the federal level. The PPP dominates in rural areas of Sindh province.
* The MQM has been a strong and vocal critic of the Taliban, and also says that some Pashtuns are involved in crime, such as land grabbing and sheltering militants.
* The ANP is the main Pashtun party in Karachi, and is the MQM’s main rival for political posts and spoils. These disputes have turned violent on the streets quite often in recent months.
The ANP is a secular party which has been outspoken against the Taliban. The ANP-led government in Pakistan’s nortwestern province has launched security operations against the group.
* Karachi is a major transit point for military and other supplies to Afghanistan for the U.S.- and NATO-led anti-insurgency effort. Any trouble there can directly affect those supplies as well as affect industrial activity, seriously impacting the country’s economy.
According to officials, Karachi contributes 68 percent of the government’s total revenue and 25 percent of GDP.
* While stock investors are used to trouble in the northwest, violence in Karachi has a more immediate market impact.
Compiled by the Karachi Newsroom; Editing by Sugita Katyal