The reaction to the Pakistan Peoples Party’s decision to restore local governments, allegedly under pressure from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, continued to unfold on Saturday, with a successful province-wide strike. Nationalist parties among other groups want the commissioners brought back.
What was unusual about this strike was that the nationalists had made one a success after a long time and that it brought them and strange bedfellows such as the Sunni Tehreek and Awami National Party together.
As with any strike, the people who wanted to enforce it had to do little but fire in the air to keep people indoors. This effective mechanism never fails to work. The aerial firing was reported from Rohri to Ubauro, Shikarpur to Khairpur. No business was done. In Sukkur even small grocery shops stayed closed.
In the morning, a group of political workers on motorcycles attacked some Suzuki vans travelling between Sukkur and Rohri near the Shalimar complex and the new bus terminal, but the police intervened.
The lawyers of Sukkur announced that they were backing the nationalist parties and boycotted court. “The people of Sindh were very happy with the revival of the commissionerate system, but our joy proved to be short lived because the government succumbed to the pressure of its coalition partner and immediately promulgated the local government system in Karachi and Hyderabad,” said the lawyers. Similar protests were registered in Khairpur.
In Thull, scores of nationalists, led by Baghi Khoso of the Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party, Josh Buriro of the Sindh United Party, Waseem Qureshi of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaaz and others organised a protest rally.
In Ubauro, the police arrested five political workers who were forcing shopkeepers to shut down but later these men were released on the basis of personal surety. In Mirpur Mathelo, business centres, main bazaars and private schools did not open and attendance in government schools was very low.
In Ghotki, hundreds of nationalist party supporters led by Nasrullah Kaladi of the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaaz and Khalid Lakho of Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party protested. Political workers in Kashmore staged a sit-in at Dera Morr for three hours, holding up traffic between Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan. All passenger coaches, buses and trucks from Punjab and Balochistan were stopped by the police two kilometres away.
In Hyderabad, the scare to ensure there was a strike began on Friday night with aerial firing. Mobs torched three vehicles, including a medical university bus, a double-cabin truck and a pickup, before the midnight. Some shopkeepers in City and Latifabad tehsils claimed they were forced to shut down.
Two Save Sindh Movement workers were killed and four others were injured, including a Rangers jawan. A bus of the Sindh Reserve Police returning to Sukkur from Karachi was set on fire at the Hyderabad Bypass.
Dilshad Abro, one of the slain persons, was claimed as a worker by Dr Qadir Magsi of the Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party. He announced three days of mourning. “We don’t want to trouble the ordinary people with repeated strikes in Ramazan. Therefore, we will only mourn their deaths for three days,” he said at an urgently called press conference.
Abro, who was taking part in a motorcycle protest rally, was attacked in Heerabad where his brother Hamza Abro, Shakir and Imran were injured.
In a separate incident, Arbab Qambrani of the Sindh United Party was killed in Bhittai Nagar near the Hyderabad bypass reportedly during aerial firing allegedly by the Rangers and police in reaction to one of their men being injured. Naik Shabbir was hit by a stray bullet in the jaw.
The Awami Tehreek led by its president Ayaz Palijo staged a sit-in at Nasim Nagar square. “The successful strikes on August 5, 8 and 13 are a referendum against the incumbent political party and its highhandedness in dealing with Sindh’s sensitive issues,” said Palijo.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2011.
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