KARACHI  - Commercial activities and public transport was remained off the roads in the economic hub of the country soon after the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s call for protest against the raid on party’s headquarter Nine-Zero.  

Major commercial areas Saddar, Boltan Market, Liaquatabad, Tariq Road, Haidry Market and others were witnessed complete closure. The routine and commercial activities were also suspended on the call of MQM in most areas of the city including Nazimabad, Malir, North Karachi, PECHS Society, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Azizabad, Surjani Town, Gulbahar, Garden, New Town, PIB Colony and several others.  

On the other side, petrol and CNG filling stations of the city were also closed across the city.

During the protest, unidentified miscreants also set tyres on fire and blocked the thoroughfares by erecting barricades. Three vehicles and a teashop were also reportedly set on fire in different localities including Sharah-e-Pakistan, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Malir and Korangi areas.

Law enforcement agencies including Rangers and police had appealed to the traders and transporters to resume their activities and issued strict orders of arresting the miscreants but the routine and commercial activities could not be resorted or return to normalcy in the city. Meanwhile, exams in educational institutes were also postponed, however, the new date of the papers will be announced later.

Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah on Wednesday contacted Sindh Inspector General of Police Ghulam Hyder Jamali and Rangers Director General Major General Bilal Akber and asked them to submit report regarding the raid on MQM headquarters.

According to sources in the CM House, the IGP Sindh and DG Rangers called on the chief minister later in the day and submitted a detailed report regarding the raid carried out on MQM headquarters Nine-Zero.

They further said the report included the names of criminals arrested during the raid and details of weapons recovered from the headquarters. The Rangers official further informed the chief minister that the raid was carried out on a tip-off of criminals in the area.

Meanwhile, the chief minister, who is also the president of the PPP Sindh chapter, had also summoned the meeting of PPP Sindh Council on March 14 at 3:00pm at the Chief Minister House. According to the PPP Sindh information secretary, Waqar Mehdi, the meeting would finalise the preparations and arrangements of the 36th death anniversary of the PPP leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The meeting would also formulate a strategy for the preparations of the local bodies election, announced in the province to be held on September 20.

Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani on Wednesday said the raid on MQM headquarters Nine-Zero would not affect the talks between the two parties over MQM inclusion in the Sindh government. He was talking to media after meeting Bangladeshi Deputy High Commission in Karachi, Noor-e-Hilal Saifur Rahman who called on the Speaker at his chamber.

Durrani presented Sindhi Ajrak, cap and shield to Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh. The two discussed issues of bilateral interests during the meeting.

He said the operation against criminal elements was initiated in Karachi after taking all political parties including MQM on board. “All political parties had supported the Karachi operation. If MQM has some reservations over Rangers operations and raid at their office then they should move the court over it, instead of creating problems for the citizens of the province by announcing protests,” he added.

Durrani said, “We have never supported any criminal and if anyone from the PPP is identified and involved in criminal activities then I will personally hand him over to the law enforcing authorities.” Speaking over the issue of Zulfiqar Mirza, he said Mirza was his brother, however, nowadays he is derailed from the track. “I have mentored him but despite it he got emotional on petty things,” he said.

MQM chief Altaf Hussain has denounced the raid, saying the Supreme Court in its verdict had declared the presence of militants wings in the political parties but the raids were being conducted at the offices of MQM.

Addressing a large gathering of party workers at Nine-Zero here on Wednesday, he alleged that in a democratic country it should not be the role of armed forces to conduct extrajudicial operations on ‘lawful’ organisations. Condemning the murder of party worker Waqas Ali Shah during the Rangers raid, Altaf rejected Rangers high-up’s claims. He alleged that Waqas was shot dead by Rangers firing. “I can prove Rangers stance a lie,” he asserted.

He appealed to the workers and supporters not to get agitated and exercise patience. MQM chief said Rangers did not produce the warrant during the raid. If they raided Nine-Zero to arrest the criminals why did they raided the house of 70-year-old widow, he questioned.

Addressing Rangers personnel, Altaf said Rangers have authority but the paramilitary security force had failed to deliver justice. The ammunition seized from Nine-Zero by Rangers do not belong to MQM, he claimed. “If the weapons have belonged to MQM it would not have been stored at Nine-Zero.” Altaf claimed that the ammunition recovered was planted by the Rangers personnel and they brought it in concealed blankets. Referring the verdict of SC in which it was observed that all political parties have armed wings, he said MQM was the only party being targeted while no action was carried out against other political parties. He said that MQM was the first party that called for army action in the city due to poor law and order situation. Demanding to stop the terrorism in name of search operation, Altaf urged human rights activists to highlight the issue, claiming that Rangers arrested 60 people during the raid.

He said a few elements were present in the party who defamed the party. The MQM coordination committee should have realised that there is no room for the terrorists and criminals in the MQM. If anyone was wanted he should have moved to somewhere else without putting Nine-Zero and others in trouble, he added. Talking about the PTI Zahra Shahid murder, Altaf said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan blamed him for the murder of PTI leader but her daughter later said on the social media that Imran Khan got her mother killed.