SWAT/TIMERGARA: In a bid to force the Centre to withdraw its notification to extend the Customs Act, 1969 to Malakand Division, the business community from all seven districts of the region observed a complete shutter-down strike on Monday. The call for the strike was made at an all-parties conference (APC) led by Awami National Party in Chakdara, Lower Dir on Sunday.
All shops, markets and trade centres throughout Lower Dir remained closed for business. The traders hoisted black flags on their shops, while billboards were inscribed with slogans against the law and displayed on the shops. Traders demanded the government withdraw the decision at the earliest.
Over in Shangla, traders, businessmen, transporters, lawyers, civil society organisations and elected office bearers of the local government held a demonstration against the Act in Alpuri, headquarters of the district.
Marching through various roads and bazaars, the protesters assembled in front of the DC’s office were they were addressed by representatives of different groups. The speakers denounced imposing the Customs Act, 1969 on people rendered helpless by terrorism and natural calamities. They urged the government to withdraw this decision at the earliest otherwise a civil disobedience movement would be launched.
A complete strike was observed in Batkhela, Dargai and Thana towns of Malakand district.
Enraged protesters also ransacked the newly-established customs facilitation office in Batkhela. Lawyers also boycotted courts and expressed their solidarity with the protesters.
Like other districts of Malakand Division, a complete transport and business strike was observed in Upper Dir. All major bazaars across the district included Dir town, Barawal, Sheringal, Bibyawar, Darora, Wari and Chukyatan bazaar were closed.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2016.