Human rights groups and trade unions have called upon the Pakistan government to ensure safe working conditions and effective monitoring of garment manufacturing facilities in the wake of two fires that killed nearly 300 garment and footwear workers this week.

The country's worst ever industrial disaster on Tuesday (11 September) claimed the lives of around 260 workers at a garment factory fire in Baldia Town No 2 near Karachi. This tragedy coincided with a shoe factory blaze in Lahore that killed 21 people and injured 14 others.

The final death toll could be even higher as more bodies are being retrieved from the basement of the garment factory which filled with water used to extinguish the fire.

The police have filed a murder case against Abdul Aziz, Mohammad Arshad and Shahid Bhaila, the owners of Ali Enterprises.

The factory manufactured underwear for export to the EU and US, with poor workplace conditions and no emergency or safety measures.

The textile and clothing industry is the mainstay of Pakistan's economy, contributing around 9% of gross domestic product (GDP), more than 50% of total export receipts, and providing direct employment to around 2.5m people.

Karachi is Pakistan's biggest industrial and port city with a population of more than 15m. A large number of residents work in the textile and allied industries.

Click here to read just-style's report yesterday (12 September) on the factory fires.