KARACHI: After a gap of several months, violence revisited the metropolis when more than half a dozen workers of Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf were injured in street clashes on Monday night over the venue of their rallies planned for May 12.

A couple of vehicles were torched, bullets were fired into the air, tents and party camps in Hakim Saeed Ground were ransacked, while workers of the two parties hurled stones at each other triggering traffic jam on University Road in Gulshan-i-Iqbal.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said it seemed that there was a ‘conspiracy’ to spoil the peaceful atmosphere in the metropolis and directed the police to restore law and order.

Vehicles are set on fire during the clash. — DawnNewsTV
Vehicles are set on fire during the clash. — DawnNewsTV

Amid the tense situation, commercial activities and traffic were suspended on University Road and adjoining areas of Gulshan-i-Iqbal.

Gulshan SP Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto said: “Workers of both the parties hurled stones at each other. Besides, “one or two vehicles” were also torched, he said.

SP Bhutto said the police were present in the area to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.

Another police officer, who wished not to be named, told Dawn that the Karachi commissioner and deputy commissioner of district east had held talks with the organizers of both the parties apparently but it did not yield positive result.

Karachi PTI spokesperson Jamal Siddiqi told Dawn ‘some party workers’ were hurt during the clash. He alleged that the PPP government used ‘state terror’ against their party.

Mr Siddiqi said the PTI government had provided security to both Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Asif Zardari when they held rallies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Rejecting the allegations, Sindh PPP leader Waqar Mehdi told Dawn that the PTI activists allegedly resorted to firing. He alleged that the PTI workers also pelted stones at their workers. Six of the injured PPP workers were rushed to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for treatment, he added.

Mr Mehdi said the deputy commissioner had given permission to the PPP to hold a rally at Hakim Saeed Ground and the ground was handed over to them.

He said the PTI did not have the permission to hold their rally at the place at the same time.

Plot to sabotage peace

Taking notice of the clash, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said it seemed there was a ‘conspiracy’ to spoil the peaceful atmosphere in the city. He directed the home minister to restore the law and order by mobilising the police.

“We have not prevented anyone from holding the rally,” said Mr Shah.

He said the PPP had adopted a proper procedure and got permission some days ago to hold its rally there. But the PTI ‘occupied’ the ground for partisan political purpose, which was not appropriate, he added.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2018