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Traders plan shutdown today

KARACHI, June 12: City traders on Tuesday gave a strike call for Wednesday in protest against what they described as rising threats of extortion as well as attacks on themselves.

They also warned that they might extend their protest for another three days if the security administration failed to come up with credible measures.

The strike call was given by Atiq Mir, the chief of the All Karachi Tajir Ittehad, following an attack on a shop in the Shershah scrap market in which a brother of a former lawmaker of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement was killed and another was wounded.

“The killing in fact aggravated the feeling of insecurity among traders, who are already facing rising extortion threats,” said Mr Mir.

“The complaints registered by the police reflect hardly 10 per cent of the total threats. Most traders are compelled to pay the demanded amount without bringing the matter into the notice of the police.”

The strike call attracted immediate reaction from the authorities and senior leaders of the All Karachi Tajir Ittehad were called by the Karachi commissioner for a meeting in an attempt to convince them to take back their call. However, their discussion ended without any breakthrough.

“He (commissioner) in fact offered us better security arrangements in the city markets,” said Mr Mir. “But our concern is very clear that we can only trust them once the traders stop receiving threats and their lives become safe. So we are going as announced earlier to keep all markets closed tomorrow.”