KARACHI: While reiterating its opposition to the current lockdown in Sindh by the provincial government, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Tuesday claimed it could help open the businesses across Karachi if allowed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, warning that the fate of the provincial capital and urban centre could not be decided by the people from rural areas as it was solely the Karachiites’ right.
MQM-P chief Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqi visibly looked angry and aggressive against the provincial ruling party which, he alleged, was deliberately making moves in the name of Covid-19 restrictions that could damage the economic condition of the people of the country’s business capital. He warned that anger ran high among the people against the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government and the situation could “explode” anytime.
“The fate of Karachi cannot be decided by the federal government or the provincial one,” he said while speaking at a press conference at the MQM-P’s Bahadurabad office with representatives of trade bodies who visited the party legislators and leaders before their address to the media. “It can no longer be tolerated that the decisions about the people of Karachi be taken by the people of Dadu. How can you allow the businesses on the outskirts of the same city round the clock [while] you don’t even allow people to come out of home in the evening? I suggest to the Sindh government to please give up these ethnic biases and treat the people of this city as their own people.”
He rejected the lockdown imposed by the Sindh government and termed it “anti-Karachi and against the economic interests” that was damaging people’s daily lives and traders’ businesses.
Demands relief measures for lockdown-hit traders
Dr Siddiqi demanded the implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) in letter and spirit with smooth continuation of the vaccination process from the Sindh government instead of lockdown.
“It is so unfortunate that the Sindh government has been indifferent to the urban areas of the province. As a taxpayer and citizen, I ask the Sindh government that a budget of several hundred billion has been allocated but what arrangements have been made to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus?” he said.
He demanded the immediate waiver of all taxes while declaring Karachi and Hyderabad as calamity-hit cities where the traders had lost millions of rupees during the past more than a year. The Sindh government, he said, should prove its ownership of Karachi through announcement of relief measures for the city traders.
“I also appeal to Prime Minister Imran Khan to take a decision if he really believes that the complete lockdown is a problem itself and not part of a solution,” he said. “If he [PM Imran Khan] decides, we would help open the city businesses and make sure that no lockdown is imposed on the businesses in Karachi. It’s a deliberate move of the PPP government, which wants to hit the businesses and economy as any negative impact on Karachi, which is the business capital of the country, would ultimately affect the national economy.”
Leaders of trade bodies Sharjeel Goplani and Jameel Paracha also spoke on the occasion and appreciated the support of the MQM-P. They warned that if the Sindh government did not review the situation immediately, a large number of shopkeepers and small-scale business operators would default.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2021