KARACHI: A total of 13 vehicles were torched in different areas of the city on Sunday when a complete shutdown was observed on a call given by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement for “peaceful observance of a mourning day” over the killing of a senior party member on Saturday. The MQM condemned the arson attacks.
Liaquat Qureshi was shot dead late on Friday night when his car was intercepted at the Maskan intersection on Abul Hasan Ispahani Road by gunmen riding a motorcycle.
Mr Qureshi, who was driving a car bearing a registration number plate of the City District Government Karachi, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died on the spot.
On Saturday following his funeral, the MQM announced that it would observe a peaceful day of mourning across the country on Sunday in protest against the killing. It also appealed to transporters and traders to show solidarity with the MQM.
Addressing a press conference, MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar had appealed to all party workers and sympathisers across Pakistan to hoist black flags on party offices and wear black armbands.
“We also appeal to the business community, shopkeepers and transporters to observe a day of mourning on May 1 and express unity and solidarity with the MQM.”
He also made it clear that if targeted killings of MQM workers, leaders and sympathisers did not stop and killers were not arrested, the MQM would be free to adopt its future line of action.
Responding to the call, transport operators didn’t bring their vehicles on the roads and traders who usually opened their businesses on Sundays also decided to keep their outlets shut, giving the city almost a deserted look especially in defunct districts central and east. However, some of those who did bring out their vehicles on the roads had to pay the price.
An official of the Central Fire Station confirmed that they had received information that at least 11 vehicles had been torched in different parts of the city on Sunday.
A truck loaded with goods heading towards the Superhighway was intercepted by unidentified suspects near the Karimabad intersection and set on fire. A bus was also torched in the same area.
Not far from the scene, another bus was set on fire in a similar fashion by unidentified arsonists riding on motorcycles in Liaquatabad.
Similarly, some minibuses were torched at the NIPA intersection, on Shahra-i-Liaquat, Tariq Road, Sir Shah Sulaiman Road and near Lucky Star.
In the Ibrahim Hyderi area, two trucks and a minibus were torched in arson attacks. A truck was set ablaze in New Karachi and another in Khudadad Colony.
Since the MQM’s Saturday shutdown call, tension had gripped certain areas of the city.On Saturday evening unidentified people in Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Nazimabad, Gulistan-i-Jauhar and several others areas forced traders and shopkeepers to shut down their businesses.
On Sunday, even petrol and CNG station owners in different parts of the city kept their business shut on the day of mourning.
On the main University Road almost all fuel stations were closed, even the weekly Sunday Bazaar held off the main University Road did not take place.
The shutdown was so effective that even roadside cigarette cabins were closed. However, in Clifton and Defence it was a different story where the closure did not affect the routine public life.
By Sunday evening shops started to reopen and the people came out to buy commodities of their daily use.