|Wednesday, 15 October 2003|
Doctors take up arms in Pakistan
KARACHI, Tuesday (AFP) Doctors in Pakistan's largest city Karachi are applying for gun licences to protect them from resurgent violence between fanatics of the rival Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam.
In the past three years 29 doctors have been slain in the sectarian wars fought out by gunmen riding motorbikes in Karachi's blood-stained streets.
The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) puts the total doctors killed in the past decade at 74.
So now, the PMA is helping doctors arm themselves.
"So far, we have referred 50 doctors' applications to the (Sindh province) home department for issuance of firearm licences," PMA official Habib-ur-Rehman Soomro told AFP. Karachi-based physician Qadir Khatri said just possessing a gun would make him feel safer.
"I have no idea how to use a gun, but its presence may give me a sense of protection in psychological terms," Khatri told AFP.
Killings between Shiite and Sunni extremists broke out in the early 1980s. Police say thousands have been killed in the two decades since.
The assassination in Islamabad last week of notorious Sunni extremist leader Azam Tariq, an MP who also headed the most powerful Sunni organisation Sipah-e-Sahaba, marked the height of this year's resurgence of sectarian bloodshed after an apparent lull last year.
Produced by Lake House