ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) on Sunday staged countrywide protests against the assassination of JUI-F leader Dr Khalid Mehmood Soomro who was gunned down by unidentified persons on Saturday.
On the call of the JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, most parts of Balochistan, interior Sindh and some areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) witnessed strong protests and sit-ins by the party activists while the traders kept their shutters down and traffic remained thin.
A complete strike was observed in Sukkur, Larkana and other parts of interior Sindh where roads wore a deserted look while petrol pumps and other business activities also remained suspended.
The strike was also observed in Othal, Bela, Shahdadkot, Kandhkot, Karachi and other cities of Sindh, where business activities remained suspended while transport was also thin.In Karachi, the JUI-F workers staged a protest against Khalid Soomro’s murder at Mauripur Road, in Shershah and Super Highway areas, where they blocked the roads, burnt tyres and chanted slogans.
A complete shutter down strike was observed across Balochistan including Quetta, Chaman, Ziarat, Dera Murad Jamali, Osta Muhammad, Sibi and other major cities of Balochistan. Trade activities and Nato supplies were also suspended due to the strike in Quetta.
The JUI-F activists sent back a passenger train that was to travel between Chaman and Quetta.The JUI-F workers staged a sit-in in Hub suspending vehicular traffic from and to Balochistan. The Balochistan University postponed the examinations beginning on Monday. New dates would be announced later.
A large number of religious party workers, carrying sticks, stones and party flags in their hands, rallied from Peshawar city to the motorway and blocked it. The JUI also held protests in different cities of the Punjab. The party activists staged a sit-in on the Ferozpur Road and raised slogans for the arrest of the killers of Dr Khalid Soomro. They blocked the Metro Bus Service. There was a massive traffic jam on the roads following the dharna at the Muslim Town Chowk.
A protest rally was taken out in Sargodha on the Khushab Road. The participants staged a sit-in on the road blocking the traffic for a few hours.
Meanwhile, the JUI-F workers prevented KP Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak’s procession to go through the Motorway for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf rally in Islamabad.Many feared a clash between the workers of the two parties but PTI workers’ restraint and government’s “extreme patience” staved off that threat.
KP CM Pervaiz Khattak, just before entering Islamabad, told The News by phone that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police could dislodge the JUI-F workers from roads but his government did not want to use the police for political purposes or clear roads through use of force.
He said the blockade of roads was not intended to record their protest over the killing of a JUI-F leader in Sukkur, but they (JUI-F workers) wanted disturbance of public order and a clash. “We did not use police or any kind of force to dislodge the JUI-F workers and foiled their conspiracy,” he said. “We did not want to create an impression that we use police for our political purpose. In this province, police are independent and are not used for political purposes,” the chief minister said.
In Bahawalpur, hundreds of the JUI-F activists held a protest rally against the killing of JUI-F leader Dr Khalid Mehmood Soomro. The protesters also staged a sit-in at the Bahawalpur-Multan and Bahawalpur-Khanewal National Highway section for many hours.
In Bahawalnagar hundreds of the JUI-F activists also took out a protest rally and forced shopkeepers to shut their businesses.In Toba Tek Singh, JUI-F activists staged a demonstration.Demonstrations were also staged by JUI-F activists in Kamalia and Gojra. In Okara, the JUI-F workers staged a protest rally against the killing of its leader. They blocked the GT Road for a few minutes and demanded immediate arrest of the killers.
In Chakwal, the JUI-F activists took out a protest rally from the Chakwal Press Club. The rally was led by JUI-F leaders Maulana Atta-ur-Rehman and Hafiz Abdul Qadir. The participants were carrying banners and placards and raising slogans against the government for not arresting the killers.
Our correspondent adds from Sukkur: The DIG Larkana, Sain Rakhio, who initiated an investigation into the murder of JUI secretary general Dr Khalid Mahmood Soomro, told the media on Sunday that the doctors who had examined the body stated that five bullets had hit the body while they had not conducted a post-mortem.
The DIG said he was heading the inquiry team formed by the CM Sindh, which also comprised SSP Khairpur, SSP Sukkur, SSP Shikarpur and DIG Special Branch. He said the team visited the crime scene and collected evidence, which would be disclosed to the media. He said the team had yet to record statements of the eye-witnesses of the incident.
The DIG said Dr Soomro was his classmate and a close companion and was a high-profile personality. “We cannot give a time frame when the inquiry would be completed. However, efforts are under way to complete the investigations as soon as possible.” He added: “It is a high-profile murder case.”The DIG announced payment of Rs2 million for identifying the killers Dr Khalid Mahmood Soomro to the police.