Shutdown in Karachi: Govt comes out with strange warning
By: Imran Ayub
KARACHI: Karachi shut down on Tuesday on a ‘day of mourning’ called by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in protest against continuing violence that has claimed more than 100 lives in a week.
And as people waited for effective action to curb the criminals killing innocent citizens, the authorities came up with only a warning to ‘terrorists and extortionists’.
In what appeared to be unusual for the city on a day of strike, no major incident of violence or arson was reported.
Although five bullet-riddled bodies were found in different areas, police attributed them to the ongoing killing spree and not linked with the shutdown. Three of the bodies were found in Pak Colony area and police said the victims had been kidnapped, tortured and shot dead.
The business came to a grinding halt with the closure of all retail and wholesale markets. Roads remained deserted with no public transport, though private vehicles were seen on roads. Fuel stations had been closed on Monday night.
However, three key businesses – transport, wholesale and retail markets and fuel stations – reopened just before sunset.
Traders said they had resumed business for the sake of Eid shoppers.
Amid the shutdown and fear in the city, a high-level meeting jointly presided over by Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Interior Minister Rehman Mailk came up with a strange statement warning miscreants and extortionists “to leave Karachi immediately and go somewhere else. Otherwise, stern action will be taken against them”.
But a strong criticism from the media and people from different walks of life forced the Sindh government to issue another statement with some modifications. It said the miscreants and extortionists had been warned and asked to stop their criminal activities. Otherwise, strict action will be taken against them.
“The chief minister and the interior minister directed the police officers concerned to ensure complete protection of the business community, traders and industrialists,” the statement said. “The government also warned some 25 banned organisations, including Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Sipah-i-Sahaba, to immediately stop their activities and close their offices.
Otherwise, strict action will be taken under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.”
The meeting decided that buses plying on inter-provincial routes would be searched and city routes and entry points would be reduced to curb illegal activities of criminals and anti-state elements and to control the movement of arms, ammunition, drugs and other prohibited articles.
The city police, meanwhile, claimed to have made a number of arrests and in a rare move also announced political affiliation of one of the suspects. South police said they had arrested four suspected killers – Shahnawaz, Naeem, Rafiq and Mustafa.
They were members of criminal gangs operating in Lyari, said an official.
“All the apprehended persons were involved in kidnappings and target killings in Karachi. Further investigations are under way,” said a statement issued by SSP south office.
The central police office also claimed to have arrested a suspect involved in target killings. “Saeedabad police arrested Abdul Ghaffar in Saeedabad area. He is a member of ‘MQM (A)’ and was involved in the murder of Yasir who was kidnapped from a market of Saeedabad a few days ago,” said a statement issued by the central police office.