PESHAWAR: Traders on Saturday observed a shutter down strike and took to the streets across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against inflation and power tariff hike.
The call for protests was given by trader bodies and Jamaat-i-Islami.
Business remained suspended in Peshawar’s markets due to the strike of traders, who staged rallies against inflated power bills and rising prices of essential goods and petroleum products.
They marched in Hayatabad, Saddar, Shaheen Bazaar, Meena Bazaar, Pepal Mandi, Chowk Yadgar, Charsadda Road, University Road, Mocha Lara, Bazaar Dalgaran and other areas before converging on the Qissa Khwani Bazaar.
Led by Haji Sharafat Ali Mubarak and Nisarullah Khan, traders set up a protest camp in Saddar Bazaar to “ensure” closure of major markets.
They said they would announce the next course of action if the federal government didn’t withdraw the recent hikes in the prices of petroleum, electricity, natural gas and LPG.
Warn government of widespread agitation
The Qissa Khwani Bazaar rally was addressed by the Peshawar Qaumi Jira chairman Khalid Ayub and trader leaders Zafar Khattak, khalid Mehmood, Haji Bashirzada and Mohammad Atif.
The speakers said the people were struggling to make ends meet due to record inflation amid escalating rates of electricity, gas and petroleum.
They said uncontrolled inflation coupled with the rupee’s nonstop devaluation had caused the country’s exports to decline.
The speakers said it was the prime duty of the government to address the issue without delay to the relief of people, including traders.
Thin vehicular traffic was reported in the city with people attributing it to market closures and protest rallies.
Also in the day, market closures, wheel-jam strikes and street protests against inflation and power price hike were reported in Shangla district.
Traders closed shops in Bisham, Alpuri, Puran, Chakisar, Martung, Shahpur, Karora, Belay Baba, Dehrai, Dandai and other areas of the district.
Bisham trader union president Mohammadzada said policies of the successive governments had destroyed businesses and the caretaker government was no different from its predecessors as it was blindly following the agreement made with the International Monetary Fund.
He said record inflation had forced people to commit suicide.
Transporter leader Sher Ali Khan said the prices of essential commodities and energy had gone through the roof to the misery of the common man.
Jamaat-i-Islami activists and workers took to the streets at Khatm-i-Nabuwat Chowk in Mansehra city against inflated electricity bills.
They marched on the roads shouting slogans against the Wapda and the government. They demanded an immediate withdrawal of taxes and surcharges from electricity bills.
JI district emir Dr Tariq Sherazi and other leaders warned the government of massive agitation over its failure to address the issue.
Rallies were also staged in Oghi, Balakot and other parts of Hazara division.
A complete shutter down strike was reported in Haripur district, where the JI protested heavy taxes in electricity bills.
The rally was taken out from Chowk Sheranwala Gate to Chowk Siddique-i-Akbar.
The speakers said the government’s “pro-IMF” policies had made the people’s life so miserable that they were left with no option but to commit suicide.
Market closures and street protests were reported across Swabi district as well.
A demonstration was held in Karnal Sher Khan Chowk in the district headquarters with JI leaders and people from all walks of life attending it in large numbers.
The party’s activists also took out rallies in four tehsils of the district.
Traders showed solidarity with the JI by observing shutter down strikes against inflation and power tariff hikes. Also, lawyers boycotted courts to protest inflated electricity bills.
Also, traders shuttered markets in Abbottabad, Havelian and Galiyat areas, while local lawyers observed a strike against exorbitant electricity bills and escalating prices of food and other essential items.
The Abbottabad rally was led by JI district emir Abdur Razzaq Abbasi and trader leaders, who demanded an immediate withdrawal of the increase in power tariff.
Vegetable market, hotels and restaurants were also closed in Abbottabad.
Main markets and shops of Abbottabad city and Suppli, Kehal, Kunj, Malik Pura, Nawan Sher and other areas stayed closed on the day.
Markets were closed and traffic was thin on roads in Lower Dir district.
The closure of all markets was reported in Chakdara, Talash, Timergara, Balambat, Khall, Kumbar, Munda, Mayar and Samarbagh of the district.
People from all walks of life held rallies against the caretaker government over the increasing power tariffs and prices of petroleum and natural gas.
Commuters suffered as public transport vehicles remained off the roads, while several private schools and colleges remained closed.
A shutter down strike was reported in the medicine market of Bajaur district with traders protesting inflation and rising petroleum and power prices.
They also staged a rally, which was attended by JI workers and leaders.
Shutter down strikes and rallies were reported in Battagram, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan and Mardan.
Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2023