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Karachi shutdown on call by MQM

KARACHI, Jan 13: A complete closure was observed in the city on Sunday on a call of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in protest against the Quetta carnage and to express solidarity with the Shia and Hazara communities, staging a protest on Alamdar Road in Quetta with 86 coffins since Friday afternoon and demanding the removal of the Balochistan chief minister and handing over of Quetta to the army.

On Saturday, the MQM called for a country-wide day of mourning on Sunday and asked the people to keep their businesses closed and wear black armbands to register their protest over the killing of innocent people in terrorist attacks in Quetta and Swat.

MQM chief Altaf Hussain also called for the removal of what he described as “insensitive” chief minister of Balochistan and his cabinet for their “utter failure” to maintain law and order in the province.

The MQM chief said if the government could not address the issues of the Hazara community, it should admit its failure and step down.

He urged Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take suo motu notice of the atrocities against the Hazara people.

The chief of the Hazara tribe, Sardar Saadat Ali Hazara, also visited the MQM headquarters on Saturday and apprised the MQM leadership of the situation his people had been facing for the past several years.

Although no incident of violence was reported in the city on Sunday, the city largely remained tense. At many places roads had been blocked where unidentified people set tyres on fire.

A considerable number of shops and markets that generally remained open on Sundays remained closed due to the strike. Even small shops in various localities remained closed.

Private transport vehicles were seen on the roads, but public transport vehicles remained off the roads which caused a great deal of hardships to travellers.

In different parts of the city petrol and compressed natural gas stations remained closed, even those on Sharea Faisal.

The weekly Sunday bazaars organised in different parts of the city were also not held.Scattered protests and sit-ins were also staged by citizens in different parts of the city to express solidarity with the protesters in Quetta.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the MQM chief directed his party office-bearers to look after the wounded victims of the Quetta carnage who had been shifted to hospitals in Karachi for treatment.

Sindh health minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed visited a hospital in Karachi and inquired after the health of the injured victims of the Quetta blasts on behalf of MQM chief Altaf Hussain, according to a press release.

Senior MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar visited the protesters’ sit-in organised by the Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen at the Numaish traffic intersection on Sunday evening and expressed solidarity with the protesters.

Earlier, Fateha and Quran Khwani for the 150 people killed in Quetta were held on the Lal Qila ground in Azizabad.