KARACHI: While an agreement was reportedly reached by the state and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) on Friday evening, earlier in the day life in the city remained paralysed as public transport remained off the roads and businesses were shut due to a strike called by the TLP and backed by several religious parties against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case.
As the strike call won support from various associations of transporters and traders, people preferred to stay indoors.
With majority of fuel stations closed throughout the day on Friday, attendance in public and private sector organisations remained less than usual.
The Sindh government had already announced a holiday for educational institutions.
No untoward incident took place anywhere in city
The overall situation in the city remained peaceful as no major violent incident was reported. Although there was no official announcement from city’s business and transport community with regard to extending support to the strike call, leaders of the two segments said that majority of their members voluntarily kept their regular operations shut.
With nominal movement of vehicles on roads, several key roads remained closed for a third day due to multiple sit-ins of the TLP.
Over 20 demonstrations held
At over 20 spots, dozens of TLP workers offered Friday prayers on main roads. However, the situation remained peaceful.
In South district, sit-ins took place at the Natives Jetty bridge/Tower, Teen Talwar, Garden and Boat Basin while a protest was also held outside the Karachi Press Club.
In East district, sit-ins took place at Numaish Chowrangi, Baloch Colony Expressway, Sohrab Goth, Teen Hatti and Lasbela Chowk.
The Jamaat-i-Islami also held a rally at the Quaid’s mausoleum.
In Central district, the sit-ins were held at the Power House Chowrangi, Sindhi Hotel, Liaquatabad No. 10, Nazimabad No. 2, 4K Chowrangi, Masjid-i-Shuhada in New Karachi Industrial Area.
Three sit-ins were held in West district in Orangi Town No. 5, Bara Board and Baldia No. 4.
Four sit-ins were held in Korangi district at Landhi Nos. 6 and 4, Korangi No 2 1/2 and Korangi No. 5 while a sit-in was held in Malir district on Sharea Faisal at Star Gate.
Apart from sit-ins, other parties staged protest demonstrations across the city after Friday prayers.
A large number of people attended the protests.
The JI staged a demonstration at Lasbela Chowk where the party’s Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman demanded the government to become a party in the review petition to be filed against Aasia Bibi’s acquittal. He also demanded that the government put her name on the exit control list.
Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (Noorani) also staged a protest demonstration at Kala Board, Malir linking the key Sharea Faisal with the National Highway.
A large number of people carrying placards and chanting slogans attended the demonstration.
Later in the evening, the city administration advised people “to remain calm as the situation is slowly and gradually getting back to normal”.
A press note issued by the Karachi commissioner said that some ulema and their followers held demonstrations and staged sit-ins in various parts of the city. The protesters dispersed peacefully later and no untoward incident took place in any part of the city, it added.
“However, at some points there were traffic congestions, which were resolved through diversions,” the press note added.
Rangers on red alert
The Sindh Rangers had been put on red alert across the province to ensure extraordinary security to meet any eventuality, said a spokesperson for the paramilitary force.
The Rangers would remain alert in the province, particularly at the entry and exit points of Karachi. Besides, the security of important installations had also been enhanced, the spokesperson added.
“Miscreants will not be allowed to spoil law and order,” he said, adding that for protection of life and property of the citizens, the paramilitary force personnel would remain alert on roads.
Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2018