LAHORE: In contradiction of Faisal Sabzwari’s claim that the traders of Punjab had received the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) with open arms, no prominent leaders of the community were spotted at the convention.
The convention was held at Alhamra Hall on Mall Road on Sunday. An official of the party stated, “The MQM is relatively new in the province and the fact that traders were not in attendance can not be termed as its failure. Other parties working in the province have a deep-rooted history”.
He stated that the party had received a very warm welcome despite its recent presence. The official added that his party had always talked about a revolution and strongly believed that it could be mobilised through the masses.
“We welcome the upper class but we primarily focus on the lower class”, he stated.
Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) secretary general Qari Zawar Bhadur said that the party had been the puppet of dictators and feudals for the past 22 years. He added that it did not suit them to speak of a revolution.
Qari Bhadur said that the MQM had supported General Musharraf during the movement for the restoration of the judiciary.
General secretary Qazi Aftab of the Mall Road Traders Association also expressed their reservations and said, “We will never join the MQM, we clearly support the PML-N because of their pro-business policies.
Strict security measures were adopted for the MQM convention while The Mall and adjacent roads cordoned off for the purpose - troubled commuters, disclosed a Civil Lines SP yesterday.
Reportedly, more than 500 security police officials were deployed at different roads, in and around Alhamra Hall- the venue for the convention. Meanwhile, The Mall from Assembly Hall to Governor House was barricaded prior and through the convention while heavy police contingencies were also deployed at Egerton Road, Kashmir Road and Khayaban-e-Aiwan-e-Iqbal – suspending traffic for hours.
Talking to the Express Tribune, Civil Lines SP (Super intendent of police) Dr Haider Ashraf stated that people were admitted on walking through the security gates and on being checked by metal detectors while the Kashmir Road was also cordoned to avoid any violent incidents, he added. Around eight police cars patrolled the roads around the venue during the two-hour convention. He further stated that the traffic was easier to divert from The Mall as it was a Sunday and traffic jamming the road during office peak hour traffic was not there.