Thousands of people in Karachi attempted to march toward the US Consulate on Sunday, January 5, denouncing the US's recent killing of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport (BGW). Clashes between demonstrators and security forces were reported as some protesters attempted to push through security cordons erected on the road leading to the US Consulate; police pushed the demonstrators back before the rally was called off. Notably, a similar rally was held in Islamabad and dispersed without major incident.
Shi'a organizations may organize similar demonstrations in Pakistan over the coming days. A heightened security presence and transportation disruptions are to be expected near any related protests.
The US Department of Defense released a statement on January 3 claiming responsibility for an airstrike targeting and killing Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) the same day. According to the statement, Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed in the strike along with six other individuals. The situation remains fluid.
Individuals in Karachi and Islamabad are advised to monitor developments, avoid protest-affected areas, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments. Moreover, US citizens, American businesses, and other American interests in the region should remain on high alert over the coming several days due to prevailing increased tensions.