KARACHI: On the day its dissidents held their first public meeting in the city, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) held a protest demonstration near the Chief Minister House on Sunday against what it called the enforced disappearance of its workers.

Late on Sunday evening, a six-member MQM delegation held talks with Senior Sindh Minister Nisar Khuhro and presented him a memorandum about ‘missing’ workers. Mr Khuhro assured the delegation that the CM would meet them in a day or two after he returned to Karachi. On his assurance the MQM wrapped up its protest and announced that it would not stage a sit-in on Monday at the pres club.

For a second consecutive day, MQM office-bearers and workers, elected representatives and relatives of those workers who were either arrested or missing gathered outside the Karachi Press Club in the morning and staged a sit-in there.

Carrying placards and portraits of their fathers, sons or husbands, the participants, including women and children, called for “immediate release” of their loved ones.

Moving scenes were witnessed when family members of the “missing” persons narrated their ordeals.

The sit-in was supposed to end at 6pm. But the MQM decided not only to continue the protest but move the sit-in to the CM House “because the participants were so emotional that they did not let their leadership end it”.

As soon as the MQM announced that it was going to hold a sit-in in front of the CM House, police placed barricades on the road leading to the chief minister’s official residence and also blocked the Club Road from the Hotel Metropole intersection.

However, MQM workers removed all obstacles and reached the PIDC traffic intersection, where a heavy contingent of police stopped them. Senior police officials talked to the MQM leaders and persuaded them not to go any further.

As the road was blocked for vehicular traffic, the MQM proceeded to hold the sit-in at the intersection.

“We are here [near the CM House] because no government official came to us during the two days of our peaceful protest at the press club for even listening to our grievances,” said MQM leader Amin-ul-Haq.

Talking to reporters, another MQM leader, Kanwar Naveed, alleged that over 1,200 party workers were languishing in prisons while 173 others had become victims of “enforced disappearance”.

“We have held this sit-in to express solidarity with the families and relatives of our interned and missing workers,” he said, adding that the “missing workers” should be produced in a court of law immediately.

While the MQM said it would end its protest if it was allowed to present a memorandum to Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, the sit-in continued till late in the night as the CM was not in town.

Earlier, senior MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar appealed to the Supreme Court and the Sindh High Court to take notice of the issue of “missing workers” of the MQM.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2016

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