Fear grinds ‘mourning’ city to a halt


Routine life came to a standstill in almost all parts of the metropolis on Friday as the city ‘mourned’ the loss of over 60 precious lives during the continuing spree of violence that has engulfed various areas of Karachi for the past four days now.
As the city braced to observe a ‘mourning’ called by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM against targeted killing, a shutter down strike-like situation ensued in fear of expected violence and loss to property.
However, the citizens still remained on the receiving end as the Sindh government, law enforcement agencies and political parties failed to bring an end to the ongoing violence, and the provincial authorities did not bother to declare a public holiday, adding miseries to the people’s sufferings, despite knowing the fact that there would be a strike-like situation after the mourning announcement by its ex-coalition partners.
With the public transporters preferring to keep their vehicles off roads, office-goers, particularly daily wagers, were seen waiting on bus stops seeking the availability of any transport whatsoever; but they had to return home
One of the most interesting things, however, was that the banks also observed a shutter down without the declaration of a public holiday and even the automated-teller machines (ATMs) were closed down.
Moreover, the citizens had to face immense difficulties due to the closure of public transport and filling stations. Those lucky enough of having vehicles, especially motorcyclists, were seen wandering in search of fuel as with only a few exceptions, all gasoline stations across the metropolitan city remained closed.
During the early hours, unidentified people had forcibly closed down petrol and CNG filling stations as well as shops that had remained opened despite the strike call. Fruit and vegetable markets in the city were also closed because of suspension of supply from the main market.
The only beneficiaries of the day were rickshaw and taxi drivers, who fleeced the desperate passengers in the absence of public transport.
Anticipating fear of violence resulted in hundreds of Sindh Secretariat officials being absent from their offices, suspending routine work. The lower grade employees of almost all departments remained absent from their offices besides a large number of officials above Grade-17 also preferred to stay home keeping in view the worsening law and order situation, a visit to the Sindh Secretariat, which is also known as provincial headquarter, revealed. However, a large number of senior officials including secretaries, additional and deputy secretaries, directors, deputy directors, superintendents and section officers of various departments had arrived at office as they possess official vehicles but all of them left their offices at 1:00 pm as they had no work to do.
The offices of provincial ministers and their staff were also closed and not a single person was seen visiting the offices of these elected representatives. The long corridors of Tughlaq House, Sindh Secretariat’s New Building, old KDA Building, Pakistan Secretariat and other adjoining barracks presented a deserted look. The busiest roads, including Shahrah-e-Kamal Attaturk, Court Road, around the provincial headquarters had no significant signs of vehicular traffic.
The offices of the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) located at Civic Centre, old KMC building, workshops of CDGK and Karachi Water and Sewerage Board among other places where city government offices are established also wore a deserted look, as very few officials had turned up at offices and they too left for their homes after spending a few hours.
The call for mourning was announced by MQM to protest the killings of innocent citizens in Qasba Colony, Orangi Town and a few other parts of the province. On the call of MQM chief Altaf Hussein, party activists and supporters hoisted black flags on rooftops to mark the day of mourning.
The call resulted in completely paralysing the entire socio-economic activity in one of the country’s most congested cities. Shops and markets that usually open after Friday prayers remained deserted as people preferred to stay inside their houses as reports of aerial firing in different areas also intensified the panic situation.