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Fear, mourning behind Karachi shutdown

KARACHI: The city was completely shut down on Saturday apparently because of widespread fear blended with mourning as the body of Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Dr Imran Farooq was flown in from London and was later buried in Federal B Area amid a few incidents of arson and shooting.

karachi pakistan newsThough the traders, who had already announced that they would keep major commercial houses and business centres closed on the burial day of Dr Farooq, shops inside thickly populated residential areas also remained shut throughout the day.

Almost the same situation was witnessed on roads where life remained paralysed after a late-night announcement by the transporters’ body to keep the vehicles off the roads.

Life in the city, which started witnessing incidents of firing and arson on Thursday evening, came virtually to a halt with no sign of regular business and social activity across the metropolis. Even beggars were nowhere to be seen, so complete was the shutdown.

“The decision to keep the vehicles off the roads was taken after deliberations with members of our organisation,” said Irshad Bukhari, president of the Karachi Transport Ittehad.

“A few incidents on Thursday evening further discouraged transporters from operating their vehicles and even today (Saturday) we have reports of attacks on public transport in a few areas.”

Mr Bukhari’s findings matched with the data collected by the central fire station that recorded at least three incidents of arson in different parts of the city, where armed men intercepted the vehicles before setting them on fire.

A motorcycle was also set on fire in Khawaja Ajmer Nagri after a brief exchange of fire between workers of two political parties.

Though the area police claimed to have controlled the situation, the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital received two injured from the affected part that included an MQM worker identified as Imran, said to be in his early 20s.

“In Pak Colony, a rickshaw was set on fire and in Saeedabad a minibus (JE-9285) met the same fate,” said an official at the central fire station.

In North Nazimabad two young men associated with the MQM received bullet wounds in firing, but people behind the incident remained untraced. Though the victims blamed the Rangers for the firing, the police said they were still investigating the incident.

“Two MQM workers — Shahzad and Imran, in his mid-30s and residents of Orangi Town — received a single bullet wound each in firing near the Five-Star traffic intersection, within the remit of the Shahrah-i-Noor Jehan police station,” said SP Malik Zafar Iqbal of North Nazimabad Town.

“They accused the Rangers of firing, but we didn’t have any such reports. Initial findings suggested that the two youngsters collided with a bus that led to an exchange of hot words and then firing from an unknown side. Both have been shifted to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for treatment.”

Major business centres and markets remained closed following the announcement made by the traders’ association a couple of days ago. They referred to their decision both as a sign of mourning and security measures.

“We even kept the businesses closed on the very next day when Dr Farooq was murdered in London,” said Siddiq Memon of the Karachi Traders Action Committee.

“Security has always been an issue in this city for the traders and we prefer protection of life and property of our members to business.”

However, he said, the traders were likely to operate on Sunday to make up for the losses to some extent and meet business commitments which could not materialise on Saturday.

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