KARACHI, May 20: Workers and leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Monday staged protest demonstrations in district south of the city as they continued to trade barbs over the killing of PTI leader Zahra Shahid Hussain.
While both parties claimed their protest was peaceful, a clash-like situation was avoided in the charged atmosphere in the district with roads leading to the protest venues — one near the mausoleum of the Quaid-i-Azam and the other outside the Karachi Press Club — being closed for traffic for some time.
Ms Hussain was shot dead in the parking area of her Defence residence on the eve of re-polling in NA-250.
Condemning the killing of their party leader, hundreds of PTI workers and supporters on Monday staged a sit-in near the Quaid-i-Azam mausoleum and demanded immediate arrest of her killers.
A large number of civil society members and number of non-government organisations workers also attended the candlelit vigil held by the participants in the sit-in after sunset. The sit-in was addressed by Aleema Khan, elder sister of PTI chief Imran Khan, and senior PTI leaders including the party’s only MNA-elect from Karachi, Dr Arif Alvi.
“The people cannot be stopped from knowing facts through harassment and fear,” said Ms Khan while addressing the sit-in.
“The Karachiites are aware of the forces which made attempts to snatch their mandate, harass them and kept the city peace disturbed. But that trend has been rejected by the Karachiites.”
She was of the opinion that past governments and security administration deliberately kept the city disturbed for their political gains, leaving people suffering.
The PTI introduced ‘fresh and peaceful politics’ in Karachi. “We have been protesting for more than a week in different parts of the city and people are witness to that. Not a single untoward incident occurred during these demonstrations,” she added.
Holding placards and banners, a large number of youngsters chanted slogans against the killing and posing their trust in Mr Khan’s leadership.
The sit-in affected traffic flow mainly on M.A. Jinnah Road and Shahrah-i-Quaideen. An official at the traffic helpline 1915 said the diversion parts of both roads were closed and vehicles were being diverted to alternative routes to avoid congestion.
MQM workers and supporters staged a protest demonstration in front of the Karachi Press Club on Monday against PTI chief Imran Khan for accusing their party chief Altaf Hussain of the murder of PTI leader Zahra Shahid Hussain.
Holding portraits of Mr Hussain, protesters, including women and children, shouted slogans against the PTI chief and condemned him for what they said hurting their sentiments by levelling baseless allegations at their leader.
They staged a protest sit-in in front of the KPC.
All roads leading to the press club were closed for vehicular traffic and strict security arrangements were made to avert any untoward incident.
Addressing the protesters, MQM leader Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said: “Ms Hussain was the daughter of Karachi and it appears that her murder was a result of some internal conflict within the PTI.”
He said the people of this city came out of their homes just to lodge their protest against Mr Khan and express solidarity with the MQM leader.
Dr Siddiqui said that the PTI chief wanted to destroy the peace of the country just to cover up his defeat in the general elections.
He advised Mr Khan to approach courts instead of levelling false allegations against Mr Hussain.
He said Mr Khan’s party had signed an agreement to deprive women of their right to vote. While making tall claims about bringing youth at the helm of affairs, he nominated a 72-year-old man as the new chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa knowing the fact that he had changed at least four political parties, he said.
MQM leader and MNA-elect Nabil Gabol said that people of Sindh, including Karachi, were protesting against the ‘foul language’ used against their leader.
MQM leader Wasim Aftab said the PTI itself was involved in the killing of Ms Hussain. He added that people of Karachi would not tolerate baseless allegations against the MQM chief.
Dr Sagheer Ahmed said the PTI chief did not fulfil the requirement of Article 62 and 63 of the constitution and therefore he had no right to sit in the assembly.