Hours after it announced an indefinite strike against the government’s failure to arrest those behind the Abbas Town tragedy, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) called it off after requests from businessmen and the general public.
In a statement late evening on Wednesday, MQM leader Raza Haroon said the party was inundated with pleas to reconsider the decision from the representatives of traders, schools and transporters.
“So many people had called the MQM international secretariat and 90 office, asking us to take back the call,” he said, adding, “MQM takes back its decision, but let me make it clear that we will not rest until our demands are met.”
Haroon asked everyone to put pressure on the government to act against those involved in the Abbas Town blast.
“We will continue to protest in a democratic way and will come out with a strategy in a few days.”
Earlier in the day, Karachi completely shut down in a matter of minutes as MQM announced its strike. Even before Raza Haroon’s initial announcement of the strike was aired, young men started forcing shop owners and traders into closing down markets, spreading panic across the city as people rushed to their homes and roads faced gridlocks. By evening all the major roads were deserted.
In the five hours between Haroon’s statements on Wednesday, at least five vehicles were set on fire and four people were wounded while law enforcement personnel rounded up nearly two dozen suspects for disrupting law and order.
The mayhem, which started in Karachi, also reached parts of Sukkur, Hyderabad, Benazirabad, Mirpurkhas and Tando Allahyar.
“We know people will suffer but if this is not done now then terrorists will only become bolder and tragedies like Abbas Town will continue to happen,” Haroon said earlier on Wednesday.
“MQM has no option left but to protest peacefully and democratically.”
In his earlier statement, Haroon claimed government agencies knew about the terrorists involved in the attacks on Shia localities in Karachi and Quetta.
“But instead of acting against banned organisations, they support them. These are attempts to disturb peace of this city. Despite multiple assurances, government has failed to arrest any of the terrorists,” he said, adding, “This goes on to show that law enforcement agencies are incapable of controlling the situation.”
“No one from the government bothered to go and console families of the victims. It seems the government doesn’t care about people of Karachi.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2013.