MQM brings Karachi to a halt over crackdown by Rangers
26 September, 2014
KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Wednesday staged sit-ins and protests across the port city against the arrest of its workers.
Meanwhile, MQM chief Altaf Hussain lambasted paramilitary troops, ex-chief justice and media "for being biased" over the issue of what he said were targeted actions against his party. Dozens of MQM workers were arrested during a raid carried out by Sindh Rangers in Karachi's Gulshan-i-Maymar area late on Wednesday, out of which eight were released while several others remain in Rangers' custody.
The MQM held protest demonstrations against the arrest of party workers in Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Rizvia Society, Sharah-i-Faisal, Landhi, Numaish, Liaquatabad, Teen Talwar and Gulshan-e-Iqbal.
The central protest venue was outside the Chief Minister's House. Elected representatives led protests in their respective constituencies. The protests led to disruption of traffic in various areas of the city, irking commuters, motorists and public servants. Several of PIA flights were delayed as people were unable to reach the airport due to closure of roads. Public transport remained off road, while petrol pumps, shops and schools remained shut down. Examinations were also postponed.
Addressing a "sit-in" held by the MQM legislators and office-bearers, outside Chief Minister's House, Altaf Hussain announced citywide protests. He alleged that the MQM has been targeted and sidelined for three years and lambasted former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and termed him a "liar and hypocrite".
He accused some sections of the media of harbouring a bias against the MQM and warned owners of media houses as well as journalists against "airing lies" against his party.
Altaf accused the Rangers of discriminating against his party. He said courts had ruled against several parties and had ordered alimentation of their militant wings, but Rangers had been targeting peaceful MQM activists. "Carry as many raids as you can but we will never bow down," the MQM chief said in a message apparently directed at the paramilitary force.
Earlier in a statement, he had strongly condemned the arrest of MQM activists from a party office in Karachi and termed it illogical. Altaf said the MQM had been striving to bring a durable peace to Karachi and instead of praising its efforts, authorities were targeting party workers.
"We do not want Rangers in Sindh. Now a new province is must," the MQM supremo said. The MQM chief said double standards were in place when it came to different parties.
CM Qaim sets up committee to negotiate with MQM
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has constituted a six-member committee from within the PPP to negotiate with MQM leaders and get their problems resolved amicably.
The committee is comprises Senior Sindh Minister for Education Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Sindh Minister for Information/Local Government Sharjeel Inam Memon, Sindh Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sikandar Mandhro, Senator Maula Bux Chandio, special assistants to the chief minister Waqar Medhi and Rashid Rabbani. The committee has been directed to contact the leaders of the MQM with immediate effect and negotiate with them to resolve the issues amicably.
Soon after formation, the members of the committee conducted a meeting at the CM House and deliberated the issues in question. The committee also summoned Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Siddiqi and Additional Inspector General Police Ghulam Qadir Thebo to get information about the emerging situation.
During the meeting Senior Minister for Education Nisar Ahmed Khuhro established contact with the MQM leaders including Amir Khan, Faisal Sabzwari and Khuwaja Izharul Hussan on telephone.