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Karachi

March 1, 2016

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Fear and loathing in Karachi after Mumtaz Qadri’s execution

Karachi  

In the wee hours of Monday, a fear of the unknown instantly hit Karachi after reports claiming that Mumtaz Qadri, the convicted killer of slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, was to be hanged very soon were shared by a few Twitter users and Facebook pages.

The panic mode was on; the fright of uncertainty gripped the city.

With the reports gaining substantiation with every passing moment, religious leaders directed their followers to start gathering on the roads leading towards the airport and Numaish Chowrangi. The news of Qadri’s execution broke at 5am by TV channels and was confirmed by the clergyman, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, in Lahore after half an hour.

Protests

In response to the development, religious parties staged protests on major thoroughfares of Karachi causing massive traffic jams in different areas. They included Sharea Faisal, Rashid Minhas Road and MA Jinnah Road.

A few protesters managed to breach airport security. However, the officials there said the situation was brought under control.

The Civil Aviation Authority closed the Star Gate road fearing violence and passengers were advised to remain cautious.

Iftikhar Tabassum, a CAA official, told The News that despite the protests, no international or domestic flight was rescheduled or cancelled at the Karachi airport.

Shouting anti-government slogans, protestors also gathered at Numaish Chowrangi led by Allama Muzaffar Hussain Shah.

A heavy contingent of police was stationed there to block the roads while religious parties repeatedly asked their activists and supporters to reach there to show their numerical strength.

 

Peace in city

Despite the religious parties’ protests, life in the metropolis continued, more or less, as per routine. Government and private offices as well educational institutions remained open.

The inter board office was jam-packed with students registering for their next examinations.

Other than the surrounding areas of Numaish Chowrangi, it was as normal day as any other in the city and the number of protesters continued to shrink at the demonstrations.

A journalist present at the site of the protests at noon, on the condition of anonymity, told The News that all roads leading there were blocked.

Police had cordoned off two sides. The protesters had sealed off the other two sides using motorcycles.

“The media was asked to leave,” the journalist added. “A private TV news channel’s team was pelted with stones by the protesters on the ground that their version was not taken into account on the issue.”

Interestingly, the cinemas of the city remained open, with their shows following the scheduled times. “With the first show starting at 1pm and the last at 10pm, no change has been carried out in our schedules today,” said an employee of a multiplex requesting not to be named.

 

Sporadic violence

There were reports that some protesters broke into offices located on Business Avenue, damaged furniture and beat up security guards

 

Rally

 The Jamaat-e-Islami staged a rally in the evening from Masji-e-Baitul Mukarram to the Expo Centre in Gulshan-e-Iqbal. The party’s s city chief, Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman, led the rally along with senior leader Muhammad Hussain Mehanti.

“We are planning to participate in the tomorrow’s [Tuesday’s] protest being staged by the Milli Yakjaheti Council near the Empress Market,” said Zahid Askari, the party’s information secretary.

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