As thugs knock on factory doors, fish exporters threaten strike

Say extortionists getting bolder; demand swift police action.

Farhan Zaheer January 23, 2013
"We are a collective of 142 fishery exporters. A one-day strike will cause at least $1 million in losses to the national economy," Zaidi threatened.

KARACHI: Pakistan Fisheries Exporters Association Chairman SM Iftikhar Zaidi has threatened an exporters’ strike if the police fail to take action against increasingly emboldened extortionists within the next few days.

“We have lost our patience and we want action now. The extortionists are now coming to our factories to threaten us,” a visibly frustrated Zaidi told journalists as he walked out of a meeting with police officials and fisheries authorities.

“We are a collective of 142 fishery exporters. A one-day strike will cause at least $1 million in losses to the national economy,” he threatened.

“The police have promised a crackdown against extortionists today. I am going to inform my fellow exporters about the developments of today’s meeting. I can tell you our next line of action only after I have met with them,” he added.

Police officials present at the meeting, however, defended their position and said that they had not received formal complaints from the exporters, which is why they had not taken action.

SSP Haseeb Baig, the most senior police official in attendance at the meeting, said that all reports received by the police are based on word-of-mouth.  “We have not received any written complaints,” explained Baig.

“This is incorrect!” interrupted Zaidi. “We exporters are responsible people and we can prove that those who have ever contacted the police to register complaints about extortionists have been eliminated.”

Asked whether he was satisfied with the fresh assurances given by the police, he said his colleagues want action against extortionists, and that they will be satisfied only when they stop receiving extortion calls and threats.

“We will deploy more police in troubled areas around the fish harbour and verify everything to resolve the security issues,” SSP Baig offered in reply. “The exporters will be free to take any action if we fail to bring a change in the present situation,” he continued. “We promise that things will improve within the week.”

Managing Director of the Karachi Fisheries Harbour Authority Abdul Ghani Jokio, who was present in the meeting, told The Express Tribune that the increasing incidents of extortion were brought to his notice a week ago, so the authority immediately called the meeting on Wednesday.

“We will see how the police take action against extortionists,” said Jokio. “We are hopeful that things will improve.”

“No doubt there is fear among people,” Jokio admitted. “We have increased [the number of] our private security guards and have also installed five security cameras to monitor the main areas.”

All Karachi Tajir Ittehad (All Karachi Traders’ Alliance) Chairman Atiq Mir, who attended the meeting as a goodwill gesture, expressed dissatisfaction at the state of affairs.

“Karachi’s traders will join the strike call if the police fail to take action,” he said. “The situation is the same everywhere in the city... we are losing hope.”

“Traders are ready to come out on the streets because of law and order issues,” he continued. However, he also called for some patience: “We have requested the fish exporters to postpone their strike call for a few days and monitor the situation.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2013.

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Haroon Rashid | 10 years ago | Reply After tremendous efforts we're back in fishery exports. The MSA and Interior Dept. Should be in loop.,
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