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Partial shutter down strike observed in country

Top Story

April 20, 2021

LAHORE: A partial shutter down strike was observed in most parts of the country on Monday. The shutter down strike was observed on the call of Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman and other scholars, who have demanded the government to send the French ambassador packing, sever diplomatic ties with France and boycott French products.

The strike call was given by the religious scholars on the backdrop of ongoing clashes between the government and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), which was banned by the government last week.

All markets in Lahore were closed except the ones in posh areas of DHA and some housing societies located towards Thokar Niaz Baig. The central leadership of all traders’ factions unanimously supported the strike. While keeping their shops closed, the traders also held peaceful rallies in their respective markets.

Meanwhile, Central General Secretary of the All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran (APAT) Naeem Mir said while addressing a press conference that the government and administration had ruined the peace and social life in Lahore, which had become a centre of riots for a week. He said the state was showing its worst face to Lahore.

He said the state backed out from its agreement with the TLP and opened fire on those they had made the agreement with. Mir said businesses were already ruined by the government's poor economic policies and its decision of limited working hours. “However, now the government has targetted the faith of Muslims, which is above our livelihood,” he said.

He said the government has mishandled the most sensitive issue, declaring peaceful protesters as miscreants and enemies of the country. The APAT demanded the government to immediately convene a joint sitting of the Parliament to make a decision to send the French ambassador back and officially launch a boycott of French products.

He said the whole of Pakistan from Khyber to Karachi was closed and all Pakistanis are always ready to sacrifice their lives for the honour of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He termed the successful shutter down a referendum against the government.

The traders, just as the Ulema, also demanded Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s resignation.

In Rawalpindi, over 80 per cent of the business activities were suspended and more than 70 per cent of the Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) were off the roads Monday. All kinds of commercial activities in most main markets of the city were suspended with traders observing a complete shutter down. Around 20 per cent shops were opened, but with half shutters. There was thin traffic on all roads.

All Pakistan Traders Association (Punjab) President Sharjeel Mir told ‘The News’ that the government badly mishandled this sensitive issue. “The government used power to handle this sensitive issue which was not necessary,” he said. He strongly condemned the government and said “we all are Ashqaan-e-Rasool (PBUH)”.

The local administration also deployed police and Rangers personnel in Rawalpindi for security. The traders community in Karachi also announced to support the strike call and kept their businesses closed.

The traffic flow in the city also remained low. Trader leader Sharjeel Goplani had said that all markets in Karachi would remain closed and the Karachi Electronics Dealers Association also supported the strike call.

Meanwhile, police and Rangers were put on high alert in Karachi after clashes erupted on Sunday. A partial strike was observed in Multan and south Punjab districts in response to the countrywide shutter down call by Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman.

The district bar association (DBA) observed a complete strike and lawyers did not appear before any court to express solidarity with people who were killed in the Lahore incident. In other districts of Punjab the trader bodies observed complete shutter down.

In Toba Tek Singh, lawyers of the district bar association observed the strike while markets and shops remained open and movement of vehicles on roads was witnessed. Reportedly, more than 80 per cent shops remained open and 20 per cent shops owned by the PMLN workers and religious bodies observed strike.

Shopkeepers and traders in Hafizabad observed complete shutter down strike. Earlier on Monday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed while announcing that the government had started talks with the TLP, informed that the TLP has released the 11 policemen it held hostage following clashes with the Lahore police on Sunday. He added that the TLP men have gone to Rehmatul Lil Alameen mosque and the police have also retreated.