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January 12, 2015

MQM calls for, then calls off strike today


January 12, 2015

As the limited weekend activities came to a halt in Karachi on Sunday on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s call for mourning the death of its activist in “police custody” and those killed in other attacks, the party announced a strike call for Monday (today), but later withdrew it. It opted to observe a day of mourning instead.
Public transport vehicles started plying the roads and shops opened in most of the city in the evening when MQM chief Altaf Hussain appealed for the resumption of these activities.
MQM activists wore black armbands and hoisted black flags on their offices to lodge their protest.
MQM leaders and activists had gathered outside the Chief Minister’s House since Saturday night with the bodies of four party activists, including Faraz Alam who was murdered allegedly at the Khokhrapar police station.
They demanded that Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah meet the families of these activists, order an investigation into the matter and ensure the arrest of their killers.
In fact, the MQM chief gave Shah a “15-minute deadline” to express solidarity with the grieving families.
However, when the chief minister failed to meet these demands, the protesters left with the bodies on Sunday and MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi told reporters that the party would observe a strike on Monday.
The MQM claimed that despite the passage of eight hours, neither the chief minister nor any member of his cabinet had met with the protesters.
Provincial information minister Sharjeel Memon urged the MQM to review its strike call and assured the party that a judicial probe into the activist’s death would be conducted.
“All other issues can be discussed through talks,” said Memon. “Strict action will be taken against those found guilty.”
The minister also asked the MQM to take into consideration that schools were reopening after winter holidays on Monday.
“All demands have been accepted. There’s no justification for

observing a strike now.”
Besides, Khursheed Shah, the leader of opposition in the National Assembly, also said the MQM had the right to protest, but it should not give strike calls.
Later at a joint MQM coordination committee meeting held simultaneously in Karachi and London, it was decided that the party would withdraw the strike call for Monday and only observe a mourning day wherein commercial activities and public transport would not be affected.

CM welcomes decision
The chief minister welcomed the MQM’s decision to withdraw the strike call and said this step would help restore peace in Karachi.
Chief minister’s adviser Waqar Mehdi told The News that an impartial inquiry would be held into Alam’s case.
He added that PPP leaders were constantly in touch with the MQM leaders, including Haider Abbas Rizvi and Faisal Subzwari, at the protest outside the Chief Minister’s House.
Mehdi said the government and the MQM had held talks all night and that had yielded a positive result.

Funeral prayers
The funeral prayers of Faraz Alam and three other party activists, Muhammad Rehan, Abdul Rauf Mehmood and Dr Ali Akbar, were offered at the Jinnah Ground in Azizabad with many MQM leaders and activists present on the occasion.
A joint funeral prayer was offered for other slain MQM activists Naeem Jafri, Jaffar Abbas and Dr Yawar Hussain at the Rizvia Imambargah.
The bodies of Muhammad Rehan, Naeem Jafri and Jafar Abbas Jafri were found at a deserted location in Jumma Goth located along Mauripur Road.
Mochko SHO Chaudhry Saleem had said the victims were apparently subjected to torture and shot once in the back of the head.
The three men were activists of the MQM’s Mawach Goth Baldia sector. Rehan was also an employee of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.
They were kidnapped from Mauripur on January 5 and their families had filed complaints at the Mauripur police station.
Abdul Rauf was shot dead at his shop near the Shadab mosque in Block 11 of Federal B Area.
Child specialist Dr Akbar Ali was gunned down at his clinic in Block 5C of Paposh Nagar, and a few minutes later, two men on a motorcycle had arrived at homoeopath Yawar Hussain’s clinic near Khilafat Chowk and shot him in the head.
MQM coordination committee chief Qamar Mansoor, Dr Nusrat Shaukat, Amir Khan, Arif Khan Advocate, Syed Haider Abbas Rizvi, Kahiful Wara, Gulfaraz Khan Khattak, Aslam Afridi, Ghazi Salahuddin, and the party’s senators, MNAs, MPAs and office-bearers were among those who participated in the funeral.

Altaf criticises govt
MQM chief Altaf Hussain said the provincial government was not taking the extrajudicial killings of party activists seriously. He added that the MQM would pursue legal options if the killers were not arrested.
In a statement issued from the party’s London secretariat, Hussain said the law enforcement agencies were murdering MQM activists in the government’s torture cells.
He offered his sympathies to the bereaved families and urged them to exhibit patience. The MQM chief said religious extremism and sectarianism had spread in society like a cancer.

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