Shutters down: MQM calls, Karachi answers

Three party members killed in an attack on Tuesday laid to rest.


Day labourers faced yet another hard day when the whole city remained shut on Wednesday to observe a day of mourning announced by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement following a bomb blast at its election office. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI:

No incidents of firing or ‘unidentified men’ forcibly shutting down markets were reported in Karachi on Wednesday, but educational institutions, businesses, transport and gas stations were all shut down during the first half of the day.


A mourning call was given by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement a day earlier over the bomb blast near the party’s election camp at Peoples Chowrangi in Bufferzone.

At least four people, identified as Hashim, Ajmal, Nadeem Paracha and Bilal, lost their lives and several others were wounded when a low-intensity blast took place near MQM’s election camp on Tuesday evening.

The routine and commercial activities were restored by evening. “During strikes, whether we want to or not, we have to make sure that public transport does not operate on the roads,” Karachi Transport Ittehad Chairperson Irshad Bukhari told The Express Tribune. “This was one of the few strikes in which none of our vehicles were burnt which is obviously good news for us.”

All Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chairperson Atiq Mir said that all small and big markets and shops will be open on Thursday as per routine. “MQM took us in confidence before taking the decision for the mourning call. Strikes usually end by the evening but it becomes very difficult to start business at that time.”



Business centers, markets and educational institutions were also closed in Hyderabad on the day of mourning. The call was backed by the local traders’ associations and Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Parts of Mirpurkhas, Tando Allahyar and Benazirabad also remained closed.

Funeral prayers

The funeral prayers of Hashim and Bilal, were offered at Masjid Ghaus-e-Azam which was attended by large number of people, including MQM leaders Gulfaraz Khattak and Rehan Hashmi. Participants of the funeral also staged a protest against the blast and demanded the interim government and apex court to take strict action against those who planned and carried out the blast.

Investigations

Taimuria police registered an FIR against unidentified persons on behalf of the state, under sections 302, 324 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and ¾ of the explosive act. No substantial progress, however, was made in the investigation of the case on Wednesday.

Taimuria SHO, also the complainant in the case, told The Express Tribune that nothing could be said until the investigation was finalised.

“It appears that the blast took place in flower pots but we suspect that it might have been planted at a motorcycle. But if that was the case, where has the motorcycle vanished to?”

Crime Investigation Department’s SP Mazhar Mashwani said that threats of more major acts of terrorism were still looming in the city.

“If we look at past cases, Taliban and banned outfits have usually been involved in them,” he said. The officer said that police, its specialised units, Rangers and intelligence agencies were coordinating with each other to curb terrorism and avoid such incident on the eve of general elections.

Party chief’s appeal

MQM chief Altaf Hussain paid tribute to all those who helped observe a peaceful day of mourning. He appealed to the people to take control of the election campaigns and step forward to help the parties.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2013.

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