KARACHI, April 24: Businesses and transport remained shut, school exams were postponed and industries remained at standstill on Wednesday as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement observed a day of mourning following the Tuesday night bomb attack on its election camp at the People’s Chowrangi that claimed four lives.
The city wore a deserted look since early morning when a pickup truck was torched in Shah Faisal Colony till 4pm when the MQM leadership thanked the people, traders and transporters for expressing solidarity with the party and requested them to resume their activities.
The police said unidentified suspects set fire to a Suzuki pickup truck in Shah Faisal Colony No 3 and fled in the morning. District East SSP Imran Shaukat said the police reached the scene and extinguished the fire.
Around 2,000 large buses and 13,000 minibuses and coaches, which operate in the city and part of them are assigned on the inter-city service, were stationed on streets and garages on the appeal of the MQM leadership.
“We decided to suspend our business on the appeal of the MQM leadership,” said Syed Irshad Bokhari, chairman of the Karachi Transport Ittehad (KTI).
He appreciated the MQM leadership for taking the transporters into confidence before announcing for the strike. He said unlike past incidents none of their vehicles was burnt or damaged during the shutdown.
While a few out of the approximately 200,000 taxis and rickshaws were there to serve people, commuters were seen on bus stops and in streets looking for conveyance to go to workplaces.
Officials said the strike did not affect the working in hospitals. In fact the hospital managements strengthened their workforce to tackle possible emergencies in the wake of any possible violence.
Health charities said their ambulances operated routinely and faced no violence in the city.
Traders said they closed their establishments on the appeal of the MQM and reopened them after the party decided to end the day of mourning at 4pm. “More than 90 per cent of the city remained shut on the appeal of the MQM because people were shocked on the blast,” said Atiq Mir, chairman of the All Karachi Tajir Alliance, while speaking to Dawn.
He said even after resumption of the businesses in the evening, many major markets remained closed amid fear of violence.
He claimed that a day’s closure caused three-billion-rupee loss to the traders, while it went up to Rs15 billion when it included the closure of industries and tax services, which affected on Wednesday.
Postponed papers to be held today
The Board of Secondary Education Karachi said Secondary School Certificate Part-II (Class X) papers scheduled for Wednesday were postponed.
According to a board spokesman, all three examinations for private and regular candidates — art and model drawing (theory), child planning and family living (for girls only) and geometrical and technical drawing — were postponed. “All these papers, to be held in the afternoon on Wednesday, will now be held on Friday morning between 9am and 12noon,” he said.
Meanwhile, the commercial geography, geography (elective) and clothing & textile (for girls only) exams for Class X scheduled for Thursday will take place according to the original timetable.
Legal proceedings remained suspended at the subordinate judiciary of the city as under-trial prisoners were not brought to courts.
Hundred of cases fixed for the day at the city courts and district courts in Malir were simply put off as the jail authorities did not send prisoners to courts.
Most of court staff and lawyers failed to turn up for want of public transport.
Legal proceedings also remained disturbed at the special courts including anti-terrorism courts, control of narcotic substances courts, accountability courts, anti-corruption courts and banking courts.