KARACHI: The main traders' association in Karachi called off its shutter-down strike on Wednesday, threatening to go on strike again if their demands are not met in 72 hours, DawnNews reported.
During an emergency meeting of the All Karachi Tajir Ittehad (AKTI) on Wednesday chaired by its president Atiq Mir, the traders’ association decided to call off the strike by 5:00 PM due to the hardships faced by the people.
Commercial life in the city had come to a screeching halt as businesses were shut down in protest against extortion collection from traders, abduction for ransom and other increasing crimes in the city. The call for strike was supported by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Sunni Tehreek (ST), transporters and other organisations.
Due to the strike, most educational institutes were closed whereas scheduled board examinations were postponed.
Karachi suffers a loss of approximately Rs 3.15 billion on a strike day, said Atiq Mir, arguing that the government needs to adopt drastic steps on immediate basis to heal the loss.
Moreover, he said traders had repeatedly been demanding protection from extortionists, but to no avail. In the last three months, around 20 traders have been gunned down while more than 15 have been abducted for payment of ransom, he added.
Criticising the government, Atiq Mir said that its commitment was restricted to just statements, with no practical implementation.
He threatened traders will go on indefinite strike if adequate protection was not provided to them in next 72 hours.
Transport also suspended
Traffic remained sparse on the roads and a majority of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and petrol filling stations were also shut for business on Wednesday as the transport association had announced its support to the strike call.
Chairman Karachi Transport Ittehad (KTI) Irshad Hussain Bukhari, when contacted, said that holding of strikes had become a routine in Karachi.
There is no distinction between a mourning day and a strike now as in both conditions the city remains shut and citizens suffer, he said.
How could the transporters dare to ply their vehicles on roads when a major political party of Karachi had supported the strike call, he said, adding that the ruling leaders did not realize the serious economic loses the country suffered due to frequent strikes in Karachi.
Former lawmaker’s brothers killed
The strike call had come on Tuesday after extortionists allegedly killed Qarar Ali and Syed Zakir Ali, who were brothers of former MQM lawmaker Shakir Ali and traders in Shershah’s Kabari market.
Sindh’s Chief Minister, Syed Qaim Ali Shah directed Sindh IG Police and DG Rangers to intensify security arrangements and deploy additional personnel to ensure security during the strike called by the traders.
He ordered for immediate action against criminal elements in the city in order to bring them to justice.
MQM demanded security for traders and the immediate arrest of those persons involved in the killings of traders.