A wave of fear and uncertainty pervaded Karachi – the city of teeming millions – on the eve of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) planned lockdown of country’s largest city today against alleged poll rigging in the May 2013 general elections. The party has made a plan to organise more than 25 protests in various parts of the metropolis.
The main arteries or points which are going to be blocked by the PTI protesters are 5-Star Chowrangi, Shershah Chowrangi, Sohrab Goth, Hasan Square, Star Gate, National Highway, Kalapul, Numaish Chowrangi, and Native Jatty bridge. PTI spokesperson Najeeb Haroon announced the names of leaders who would lead the public rallies in the city. Asad Umer would lead rally at Nursery; Arif Alvi at Kalapul; Naz Baloch at Shershah; Azam Swati at National Highway; Firdous Naqvi at Numaish; Ali Zaidi at Hasan Square; Hafiz Uddin at Sohrab Goth; Najeeb Haroon at Five-Star Chowrangi; Samar Khan and Subhan Ali at Native Jetti area; and Imran Ismail and Ashraf Qureshi at Star Gate.
Party Chief Iman Khan is expected to visit Star Gate, Nursery and Numaish Chowrangi. He would arrive at 12:00 noon, spokespersons said In a tweet, Dr Arif Alvi said “Karachi shutdown starts at 6am on December 12. Karachi will make sure it happens.” He also said the essential components of city’s daily operations such as transporters and traders are supporting the party’s protest plan.
“It will be a total shutdown. Transporters and traders have responded favourably,” he said. “Peoples’ sentiments are in our favour because Karachi is looking for change.” A spokesperson for Bilawal House said Pakistan’s economic situation cannot afford another strike. “We do not believe in shutdown politics because they paralyse economy and the loss is borne by the common man. Such threats have taken us back in terms of development.” He added that while a peaceful protest is the right of every political and religious party, creating a law and order situation is a violation of the Constitution.
The traffic police has also chalked out a security plan for the PTI’s rally. As many as 500 officials to be deployed at various locations, including alternative routes to those locations. Whereas, additional reinforcements would be deployed at Shahra-e-Faisal and other roads that lead to the airport. Irshad Bukhari of the Karachi Transport Ittehad said the PTI has made no contact with his association. “We will take a decision in this regard tomorrow,” he said. “Insofar as MQM’s strike calls are concerned, party members approach us on behalf of Altaf Bhai to observe a strike. But no such request has come from the PTI.”
Meanwhile, transporters in Pakistan’s business hub have not yet decided whether or not they should keep their vehicles off the road in response to PTI’s call for protest. Haji Dil Khan Niazi, who heads All Pakistan Goods Transporters’ Welfare Association, however, said that for the protection and safety of their vehicles, operations will be halted on Friday. “We are not associated with any political party but in case of arson or stone-pelting we will not operate,” said Niazi.
SOURCE: RECORDER REPORT