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November 19, 2019

JUI-F to continue blockade of Hub River Road on sixth day despite public anger

Karachi

November 19, 2019

The blockade of Hub River Road in Karachi under the Plan B of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F)’s Azadi March will enter its sixth day today (Tuesday) amid resentment among common people who are being affected by the closure of the road.

On main Hub River Road, a country’s important thoroughfare that connects Sindh and Balochistan provinces, the JUI-F has been holding a sit-in at Lucky Chowk near a branch of the Jamia Farooqia seminary since November 14 (Thursday), causing inconvenience to common people, especially those who have to travel between Sindh and Balochistan.

After realising that the sit-in had been causing severe inconvenience to the people, the party on Saturday announced that the road will only be blocked in daytime from 8am to 8pm. Since then, the protesters disperse at night, opening the road where a long queue of loaded trucks have lined up awaiting the opening of the road in the evening.

On Sunday morning, supporters of the JUI-F started to arrive at the location to resume the sit-in, however, their numbers remained low until Zuhr prayers, after which activists of the party from various neighborhoods of the city joined the protest. The protesters shouted slogans against the government and demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resignation.

A small number of workers of Mehmood Khan Achakzai-led Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party carrying their party flags have also been attending the sit-in since Thursday. A few members of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz also participated in the sit-in to show solidarity with the JUI-F.

JUI-F Central Secretary General and former Senate deputy chairman Abdul Ghafoor Haideri is scheduled to attend the sit-in today after Zuhr prayers and address its participants.

JUI-F sources told The News on Monday that the party had also asked its district leadership in Karachi to change the location of the sit-in and shift it to Sohrab Goth or Ghaghar Pathak to block the Super Highway and National Highway respectively.

Since the sit-in, buses and trucks travelling between Sindh and Balochistan provinces have been using a different route to reach their destinations. They complain that because of the closure of Hub River Road, a drive of five minutes for them has been changed into a drive of forty minutes due to the dilapidated alternative roads. Also residents of Naval Colony, Yousaf Goth and dozens of other areas of Karachi and Hub are being affected because of the road’s closure.

Muhammad Rizwan, a resident of Naval Colony, said the Plan B of the JUI-F’s anti-government protest was creating problems for the common people, not for the government. “When teachers try to march towards Chief Minister House, Pakistan Peoples Party's provincial government asks the police to disperse them by beating and using water cannons on them. But 20 people have blocked the main thoroughfare for the past five days and the government is doing nothing to open the road,” he remarked.

However, JUI-F provincial leader Sami Swati said the Plan B of his party’s anti-government agitation was to serve the larger public interest. Police on Friday had booked JUI-F leaders for staging the sit-in on Hub River Road on behalf of the state under sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with a deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 427 (mischief causing damage) of the Pakistan Penal Code. However, some PPP’s provincial ministers intervened after that and police were asked not to take any action against the protesters.

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