KARACHI: While the city life largely remained normal amid a protest call given by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on Wednesday, the party with the largest vote bank in Karachi made its presence felt in the latter half of the day to organise its power show, stage resistance against the law-enforcement and attract media attention when its senior leaders and workers, including women, reached Numaish intersection despite hurdles and road blockades placed by police that had also paralysed life in key business district of the metropolis.
The situation turned violent at the Numaish an hour after the PTI pulled out crowds and badly hit the routine life in all neighbourhood areas connected with the busy traffic intersection.
Business activities in blocks of Lines Area, parts of Soldier Bazaar and Saddar came to a halt forcing several traders to pull down shutters and call it a day even before sunset.
Although the party had already announced a protest rally at Numaish at 3pm, the situation didn’t look promising till 5pm as only a few workers managed to reach the spot who were taken away by the police, already present there, immediately.
The real showdown began after 5pm when four different caravans of PTI led by senior leaders started converging on Numaish one after another.
Former PTI MNA Aftab Siddiqi leading a rally of dozens of vehicles from Tariq Road was the first to arrive.
Another rally from DHA led by PTI MPAs Khurrum Sher Zaman and Shahzad Qureshi with a number of workers, including women, gave further boost to party workers monitoring the situation from broadcast and social media platforms to join the protest at Numaish.
Finally the caravan led by PTI Sindh chapter president Ali Zaidi came as a final lift for PTI workers, who after parking their vehicles, including motorbikes at different places, joined the protest by to Numaish due to road blockades.
Witnesses said that the growing number of PTI workers put the police force under pressure and that was the time when the clash occurred and the face-off led to firing of teargas shells from the police and the stone pelting from protesters.
The aggressive approach of the PTI workers pushed the police force to retreat further. “Houses of our MNAs and MPAs in Karachi have been raided one after another,” said PTI Sindh chapter president Ali Zaidi.
“Dozens of our workers have been arrested and now this ‘imported government’ has decided to snatch our basic democratic right of protest, but we would not give up. The people from across Karachi are still coming and many are facing problems due to road blockades. The people of Karachi have given their verdict and the government has got panicked and left with only an option of using force.”
It was not a violent situation until in the evening, which affected the daily life in adjoining areas of Numaish, including Sohrab Katrak Parsi Colony, Soldier Bazaar, Shahra-i-Quaideen, New M. A. Jinnad Road and Lines Area.
Blockades affect students reaching exam centres
The road blockade by the administration in the early hours of Wednesday had left many stranded on roads early in the morning going to their workplaces, educational institutions and hundreds of students appearing in the Second School Certificate (matriculation) exams.
Many residents of these areas returned home after finding themselves trapped because of placement of containers on key road links. However, the SSC students suffered the major loss.
“At three examination centres in Jacob Line, attendance remained much short,” said a source privy to the details gathered by the Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK).
“It was quite strange. The Islamabad administration had announced postponement of annual exams on Tuesday afternoon due to emerging situation in the capital. The government here could have done the same for the students of these areas, if it had planned to lockdown the area this way. I don’t know what would be the fate of these students who couldn’t appear today [Wednesday] for the exams due to these blockades.”
PTI moves SHC
The Sindh High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Sindh home secretary, provincial police officer and other respondents on Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MPA Saeed Ahmed’s petition seeking protection for party workers.
The two-judge bench directed the respondents to file comments till June 2.
The MPA contended that police had raided his house on May 24 without any warrant while two party MNAs had already been arrested without any FIR.
Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2022