Source AP ©

Prominent Pakistan lawmaker banned from traveling to Karachi

A prominent Pakistan opposition lawmaker was banned from traveling to Karachi because of his "provocative" statements about deadly violence in the southern port city.

Imran Khan, a former cricket star, was barred from taking a flight from Lahore to Karachi, said Omar Cheema, a spokesman for Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Movement for Justice party.

Khan has accused the Mutahida Qaumi Movement, or MQM, a Karachi-based party allied with Musharraf, of stoking violence in the city during a visit by suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry on May 12 in which some 41 people were killed and dozens were injured, many from gunfire.

Musharraf suspended Chaudhry on March 9 over alleged abuse of authority. The move sparked widespread protests by lawyers and opposition groups, accusing the president of attempting to remove an independent-minded judge to forestall likely challenges to his continued military rule in an election year.

Karachi is the stronghold of MQM, which mainly represents Urdu-speaking Muslim migrants from India. The city also has a history of political violence in which MQM is often accused of involvement.

The government of southern Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, banned Khan on Saturday from entering the province, saying his visit could spark fresh violence, police said.

"The action was taken in view of his provocative statements which caused unrest in Karachi," said Azhar Faruqi, chief of police in Karachi. "There was fear that if he arrives and continues to speak in the same manner it may cause a law-and-order problem."

Khan said he seek to have MQM chief Altaf Hussain deported from Britain, where he lives in exile, to stand charges for the Karachi violence.

"Such tactics cannot stop my way," he told reporters, referring to the government restrictions. "I am heading to London on June 2. I will file a case of the May 12 killings of innocent people against Altaf Hussain."

Hussain went into exile in 1992 to escape arrest over allegations of violence in Karachi that included killings, arson and robberies.

Khan also plans to file a court case against Musharraf's government for involvement in the Karachi violence, Cheema said.

"All this is being done at the behest of the federal government," Cheema said, condemning the ban on Khan.

The government of Punjab province has banned Khan from leaving Lahore for three days but he is not restricted to his home. In Karachi, he was to offer condolences to families of those who died in the May 12 violence and attend a political meeting in the nearby city of Hyderabad, Cheema said.

Chaudhry, who was scheduled to speak at several meetings with lawyers in Karachi on May 12, could not leave the airport as violence raged in the city. Opposition groups accused armed MQM activists of attacking the judge's supporters who had turned out to welcome him.