While the landmark famous Clock Tower Chowk was draped in black to mourn the power outages, only about 300 people turned up at the protest rally in the chowk on Sunday as the much-touted ‘Black Day’ fizzled out.
The strike call by the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) and Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) was met with small and medium entreprenuers’ scorn.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Council of Loom Owners Association (CLOA) chairman Waheed Khaliq Ramay said, “This was a show by big industrialists and mill owners. They neither have a connection with traders and middle class businessmen nor did they try to reach out to us.” He said, “They consider us inferior and we prefer to stay away from their rallies.”
Mirza Shafiq Ahmad, vice president of the Sizing Owners Association, shared his sentiment, “Big industrialists are embarassed to speak to medium entreprenuers. All sizing units remained operational. We opted out of the so-called ‘black day’.”
Shahid Gogi, general secretary of the Anjuman Tajiraan Punjab, said, “The black day organisers were supporting a parallel trader’s organisation. They were unable to bring traders out.” He said the ‘black day’ had flopped. “It was just a display of wealth with banners, flexes and flags covering the markets but things continuing as usual on the ground. “The wealthy few cannot represent all traders. The failure of this strike proves it,” he said.
In the city, shops, business centres and shopping plazas remained shut for two hours and all markets in the city remained open. Public transport also remained operational. At the Clock Tower rally, Pakistan Textile Exporters Association Chairman Rana Arif Tauseef said that the excessive outages had devestated the industrial sector. He talked of ‘discrimination against the Punjab.’ He also claimed that a conspiracy was being hatched to push the textile sector into complete closure. Speaking to The Tribune, Arif Tauseef rejected the assertion that the ‘Black Day’ had not been successful. He said that the rally had been attended by both industrialists, workers and two organisations represeting traders. He claimed, “We did not invite some of the groups; since we prefer peaceful protests.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2012.