( Reuters ) - Pakistani businessmen are veterans of political crises, but this time they say it's different.
From self-employed truck drivers to wealthy factory owners, no one can recall anything like the violence that shook Pakistan after last week's murder of former premier Benazir Bhutto.
"This is the worst situation we've ever faced," said Barkat Ali, surveying the charred remains of a petrol station and restaurant that he and his brother-in-law set up in Karachi four years ago.
"Right now, the security is present," Ali added, peering over his spectacles at a few soldiers patrolling across the road in an industrial area of the country's largest city. "But if they leave the area, the fear is there. It's never happened before."
The Korangi industrial estate looks like a war zone: dozens of trucks have been torched and their remains flank both sides of the main street. Two trucks laden with wheat were still smoldering on Tuesday, five days after Bhutto's assassination.
Her murder, in a gun-and-bomb attack at an election-campaign rally last Thursday, unleashed a whirlwind of anger, especially in Karachi, capital of Bhutto's home province. Mobs torched buildings, vehicles and trains. Businesses were looted.
"They burnt our factory. It's a total loss," said Rashid Ali Warraich, standing with his hands jammed into the pockets of his leather jacket, surrounded by the ashes of the family business.
A small factory that once made bath towels for export to the United States, Unit 2 of Fazal Sardar Textile Mills was attacked by hundreds of rioters a day after Bhutto's assassination. The place had been abandoned the night before, so no one was injured.