In a protest against rise in extortion and target killing in Karachi, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Thursday walked out of the National Assembly.
Speaking to the media outside the assembly, MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi said that if incidents of extortion and target killing are not curbed, his party might as well boycott the upcoming joint parliamentary session on March 17.
“Although we are a part of the coalition government, but we cannot forget the support that the people of Karachi have extended to us [MQM] by voting for us all these years,” he said. “We will raise our voice for their protection and also call for a peaceful protest.”
“Until and unless the government controls the deteriorating security situation in Karachi, we will stage a walk-out every day.”
He said that businessmen were shifting their businesses abroad from Karachi amid rising tensions in the city. “They are receiving death threats and threats that their children will be abducted.”
“It seems as if it is all by design and planned – as if the police officials in the areas where such incidents are rampant are deployed on the will of the extortionists,” said Rizvi.
“Karachi’s biggest flea market in Sher Shah which has more than 6,000 shops are stripped of Rs600,000 every day,” said the MQM leader. “[Interior Minister] Rehman Malik had announced for the establishment of police check posts in the area. In the check posts, you don’t find a single police official, but the vacant check posts are inhabited by dogs and druggies.”
Rizvi said that Karachi is the economic hub of Pakistan. “If Pakistan has Rs100, then Rs70 are contributed by Karachi. If such a situation prevails, then Karachi’s businesses will not be able to flourish and this will result in the downfall of Pakistan’s economy.”
He said that the extortionists have shaped into an industry. “MQM contacted police, brought it in the notice of President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah. We [MQM] have raised our voice against the growing extortion in Karachi.”
He added that the jewelry, iron, timber, marble and travel industries were the most threatened, while small and medium enterprises were also targeted.