The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a key ally of the Pakistan Peoples Party, late Friday night reversed its decision of boycotting the presidential address – it was, perhaps, too late for the party to withdraw its support for a traders’ strike.
On Saturday, traders and transporters in Karachi and other urban centres of Sindh observed a shutter-down and wheel-jam strike in support of the MQM’s protest against ‘rising incidents of extortion in the metropolitan city of Karachi. Unlike the past, this time around the strike remained largely peaceful.
Karachi city presented a deserted look with thin vehicular traffic on the roads, and lawyers also boycotted court proceedings, resulting in the adjournment of scores of cases.
Dozens of traders also staged a rally against ‘Bhatta mafia’. MQM chief Altaf Hussain expressed hope that President Asif Zardari would honour his commitment to crack down on extortionists and criminals.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2012.