KARACHI: The city braces for a complete shutdown on Saturday when the body of the slain Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Dr Imran Farooq is arriving here from London for burial in Federal B Area, as traders announced on Thursday that they would keep businesses shut and the transporters were in a quandary whether to operate their vehicles on the day.
Students of hundreds of schools and other private education institutions have also been conveyed the message by their managements about the closure of all activities on that day amid fear and uneasiness mounting among Karachiites though the MQM leadership has not yet come up with any strike call or announcement for a day of mourning for the burial of their party’s only convener.
Dr Farooq, a founding leader and the first secretary-general of the MQM, was assassinated in London on Sept 16.
The MQM had announced 10-day mourning following his murder. It has decided to suspend its political and organisational activities for four days since the body was handed over to the family.
Though the government institutions and banks remain closed on Saturday, the private bodies have decided not to operate on the day of Dr Farooq’s burial, citing multiple reasons.
“There is definitely an issue of security,” said Siddiq Memon, chairman of the Karachi Traders Action Committee that claims to represent 580 markets across the city with around 650,000 shops and showrooms.
“Similarly, we also feel aggrieved by the tragic death of such a senior politician. We have, however, conveyed to our members to keep the markets open on Sunday to compensate for Saturday’s loss.”
He said there was no message from any political party and security institutions to keep the businesses closed on the day of Dr Farooq’s burial, and the traders made the shutdown announcement on their own for their own reasons.
A number of private schools on Thursday communicated a message to their students that there would be no educational activity on Saturday.
Though the transporters have not yet decided about the fate of their business on Saturday, a senior representative of their main organisation did not sound confident when asked if regular operations would continue on the day of Dr Farooq’s burial.
“The MQM has not given any strike or mourning day call,” said Irshad Bukhari, president of the Karachi Transport Ittehad.
“So we are not going to announce any closure of regular operations, but won’t stop anyone who skips operating that day due to security concerns prevalent among transporters.”
The city police on the other hand have planned strict security measures for the day that may affect regular traffic on Sharea Faisal and the entire route the body would travel from Quaid-i-Azam International Airport to Jinnah Ground in Federal B Area for the funeral prayers and subsequent burial in the nearby Shuhada Qabristan.
“We have planned to deploy some 3,000-strong force on the route of the funeral procession,” said city police chief Fayyaz Leghari.