Rigging allegations: Parts of Sindh reject PML-F strike call, others comply

Three people killed and several others injured in clashes between activists and shopkeepers.

Our Correspondent May 16, 2013
A file photo of Karachi during a strike. PHOTO: ONLINE/ FILE

KARACHI: The strike call by the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), supported by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the 10-party Alliance, to protest against rigging in the elections, was largely rejected by Karachi’ites as businesses and traffic operated normally in most parts of the city on Thursday.

“We don’t support the strike as our business has already suffered badly from a number of strikes called by other parties,” a resident of Nazimabad told The Express Tribune.

PML-F Sindh secretary general, Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh, while addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday, said that transparent rigging, instead of transparent polls, were held on May 11, in which the Pakistan Peoples Party and the caretaker setup were involved.

The PML-F demands that the ECP re-conduct elections in the constituencies which witnessed massive rigging. They also want deployment of army personnel inside the polling stations and during the vote count at the RO offices to stop rigging.

Some areas at the outskirts of the city, including Gulistan-e-Juhar, Gulshan-e- Maimaar, National Highway and others, where the PML-F have a sizeable presence, observed a partial strike where shops kept closed during the first half of the day. In the eastern parts of the city, however, businesses remained closed throughout the day.

Public transport remained operational across the entire city. Transporters, however, had to suspend services at University Road for a few hours when miscreants reportedly pelted stones at passing vehicles near Mausamiyat.

Petrol pumps in the outskirts of the city remained closed during the first half part of the day as owners anticipated trouble due to the strike. Those inside the Central districts of the city, however, remained functional. Banks and other financial institutions remained open, including the Karachi Stock Exchange.

Rest of Sindh

A complete shutter-down strike was observed in Khairpur, Pir Jo Goth, Kotdiji, Thari Mir Wah, Faiz Ganj, Pacca Chang, Larkana, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and other areas, while partial strike was observed in Sukkur, Rohri and some parts of Upper Sindh. The strike, however, did not affect the Higher Secondary Parts one and two exams which started on Thursday.

Supporters and activists of the PML-F and other parties of the 10-party Alliance staged protests and sit-ins in several cities and also blocked the National and Indus highways at various locations.

Strike turns violent

At least three people were killed and many others injured in armed clashes between the activists of two political parties on Thursday. The clashes took place as PML-F supporters reportedly attempted to force shopkeepers to shut down their businesses in view of the strike call by the party.

According to reports, a group of PML-F supporters on motorcycles, carrying wooden sticks went around Kumb town, demanding that shopkeepers close down their businesses for the day. Upon resistance from the latter, a heated debate ensued which resulted in the killing of PML-F supporter, Feroz Gul Gopang.

This sparked further tensions between the groups, killing two people and injuring several others who were shifted to the nearest taluka hospitals for treatment. Rangers personnel were called in to support the police in maintaining the law and order in the city after which the situation returned to normalcy.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2013.


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