Opposition lawmaker shot in Pakistan

KARACHI - Unknown assailants riding a motorcycle opened fire on the car of a Pakistani lawmaker on Tuesday, officials said, critically wounding him in an attack that spiked tensions in the country's largest and most volatile city of Karachi.

Rashid Godil, a legislator from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) opposition party, was in his parked car at a traffic light in the Bahadurabad neighbourhood in the eastern part of the city when the attackers began firing with automatic weapons.

"The attackers came from behind the car and opened fire injuring Rashid Godil critically," Abid Kaimkhani, a senior police officer told AFP. Godil's driver died in the attack, he added.

A spokesman at the Liaquat National Hospital, where Godil was taken, said the politician was struck by five bullets to his head, jaw and chest and a team of doctors was trying to stabilise him.

The shooting comes a week after members of the MQM, which dominates politics in Karachi, offered their resignations from their seats in parliament over what they described as a campaign of victimisation against them.

The resignations have not yet been formally accepted by the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which is trying to get the party to reverse its decision.

The MQM has the power to shutter Karachi, Pakistan's economic hub and a city of roughly 20 million people, and its activists have been accused of using violence in the past.

The party denies the charges and says it has been unfairly targeted in a police and paramilitary crackdown on violence in the city, the Sindh provincial capital, that began in 2013.

Tensions have also been rising between MQM chief Altaf Hussain, who rules the party from London, and the country's powerful military establishment.

The rift widened in June, when Hussain, in an address to his workers accused the paramilitary Rangers of torturing and killing party workers and dumping their mutilated bodies on roadsides.

The party has accused law enforcement agencies of the extrajudicial killing of 40 of its supporters and the forcible "disappearance" of 150 more.

The Rangers have been carrying out an operation aimed at ending the wave of political, religious, ethnic and criminal violence that has swamped the city in recent years.

The MQM has itself often been accused by critics of using extortion and murder to cement its power over the city.