Karachi grinds to a halt on MQM strike call


A complete shutter-down strike was observed in Karachi on Sunday on the call of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to mourn the death of MQM MPA Liaquat Qureshi. At least 11 vehicles were set on fire in various parts of the city early in the afternoon, bringing public transport to a complete standstill.
Shops and markets that usually remain open on Sundays and draw many customers were also deserted as people stayed in their houses while aerial firing intensified in various parts of the city. During the early hours of the day, unidentified people forcibly closed down petrol and CNG filling stations as well as shops that had remained opened despite the strike call. Pakistan Rangers also caught several arsonists red-handed and moved them to undisclosed locations.
On the call of MQM chief Altaf Hussein, party workers and supporters displayed black flags on their houses to mourn the party leader’s death, and fateha was also held in several places for the late Qureshi. Workers and supporters of MQM also distributed food among the poor. Three buses were torched in New Karachi, two buses were set on fire in Karimabad and Ibrahim Hyderi, and another two were set ablaze in Lucky Star, Burns Road, Nipa Chowrangi and Sharah-e-Quaideen.
Residents of the city faced immense difficulties because of the closure of public transport and filling stations. The only beneficiaries of the day were rickshaw and taxi drivers, who overcharged desperate customers in the absence of public transport. Fruit and vegetable markets in the city were also closed because of suspension of supply from the main market. In a statement issued from MQM Headquarters 90, the party claimed that some people were trying to tarnish the image of the party by setting public property on fire.
MQM condemned the loss of property on the day of mourning and appealed to its workers to inform law enforcement personnel if they found someone involved in such activities. Meanwhile, Pakistan Rangers continued its silent search operation in various parts of the city. Early in the day, Rangers launched a search operation in Janesar Goth, Mehmoodabad. Fifteen suspected criminals were arrested after a brief exchange of fire and Rangers claimed to have seized weapons from their possession.
Traders incurred over Rs 2 billion in losses, sources said, and unskilled workers who work on daily wages also suffered.