Life in Karachi remained paralysed on Wednesday as the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) observed a strike to protest the murder of two of its activists as well as target killings, extortion and an anti-Islam film made in the US.
A complete shutter-down was witnessed in almost all major markets and shopping centres. Vehicular traffic was also thin and most of the roads wore a deserted look. Attendance at the educational institutes and offices was also low.
Protesters torched roadside stalls and tyres and blocked roads in some areas including Patel Para, New Karachi, Nazimabad, Orangi Town and Lyari.
The markets the Old City areas, Tariq Road and North Nazimabad remained closed, while most of the fuel stations also remained shut.
A contributing factor to the markets’ closure was the uncertainty prevailing in the city after the twin bomb blasts in Hyderi Market in North Nazimabad a day earlier that killed seven people.
Trader representative Attique Mir informed The News that due to the blasts, the situation was uncertain on Wednesday and, most of the traders had decided to observe the strike.
He said almost all markets in Old City areas, Clifton and Tariq Road remained closed.
Mir announced that traders would also keep businesses shut on Friday to register their protest against the anti-Islam film.
Work at the City Courts and Malir courts was affected badly due to the strike.
The attendance of court staffs remained very thin and those who showed up at work left early. Most litigants and lawyers also did not turn up for the hearing of their cases. Under-trial prisoners were not brought from the Central Prison and the Landhi jail.
JI activist laid to rest
JI activist Abdul Wahid was laid to rest at graveyard in Malir Town.
Wahid’s funeral prayers, which were led by JI Sindh chief Asadullah Bhutto, were offered at the Quaid’s mausoleum near the party’s headquarters.
A large number of JI activist, besides the relatives of Wahid and residents of the area, participated in the funeral.
Speaking on the occasion, JI leader Bhutto said both Pervez Mahmood and Abdul Wahid had sacrificed their lives in the struggle against extortion and injustice. “These brave personalities were punished for their struggle against terrorists,” he lamented.
Bhutto said that governor Sindh was directly responsible for Wahid’s murder. “The fatal bullet that targeted the JI worker was fired from the Governor’s House as it hit Wahid on his chest and then elsewhere.”
He alleged that the bullets were sprayed on peaceful JI workers from the direction of the Governor’s House. He demanded that the governor, who was directly involved in killings, should be dismissed and undergo judicial inquiry.
Bhutto said that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) would not spoil the struggle of JI through its nefarious tactics of terrorism. Terming the strike a referendum, he predicted that the MQM’s rule at gunpoint in the city was ahead of a logical end. He said that masses in Karachi “slapped on the face of MQM through such a successful strike” and proved that the people of Karachi were sick of terrorism and would not tolerate “the rule of might, politics of extortion and corpses” any more.
The JI leader said about 100 workers of JI were arrested on Tuesday from their houses to foil the strike, which was a severe violation of basic and democratic rights of people.
After the funeral, JI Karachi chief Mohammad Hussain Mehanti claimed that police killed Wahid on the behest of those who targeted Pervez Mahmood. “The people would bring these rulers to their deserving end, if they continued their pro-terrorist stance.”
Later while addressing a crowded press conference at the Idara Noor-e-Haq in the evening, Mehanti said despite the undemocratic tactics used by the police and the administration on the behest of the MQM, the strike call received outstanding response, as the people voluntarily extended support to make the strike successful.
“The overwhelming support of traders, transporters and various religious and political segments to the JI’s strike call has proved that the people of Karachi want to get rid of terrorists and extortionists.”
He said that in order to foil the strike against terrorist mafia in the city, the police picked up about 100 activists of JI from their homes during Tuesday night, adding that the government has adopted a strange behaviour over the issue.
“When the allied parties of the government call strikes, they are provided with a freehand to torch vehicles and even resort to killing the people, but on the other hand the administration used its full power and foul tactics to disrupt the JI’s peaceful strike. He thanked the people of Karachi as well as other religious and political parties for supporting the strike.
Talking about the anti-Islam film, Mahenti said the JI would support the call for a protest against the film on Friday, besides staging out a big rally on Sunday in this regard. He was of the view that in order to divert the attention of the masses from the film issue, the local agents of their foreign masters had martyred a JI leader and exploded a couple of bombs in Hyderi.
Responding to a question, he said that the JI would soon initiate a campaign against terrorism and extortion.
He demanded that the government should arrest the killers of Pervez Mehmood and Abdul Wahid. He also demanded that the Sindh governor should be dismissed “for being responsible for the killings in Karachi”.
The government had put the JI Karachi chief under house arrest following the party’s strike call, the JI secretary general told The News.
Siddiqui said Mehanti had agreed to stay home, but when the media spread the news about his house arrest, the policemen were withdrawn from his house.