FAISALABAD - The textile and ancillary industries strike continued for the fourth consecutive day here Monday. Two hundred and fifty thousand-strong power loom sector also joined the protest movement launched by textile exporters against 31 per cent gas price-hike. The protest campaign is spreading fast as various industrial sectors are also joining the movement. Thousands of textile mill owners, exporters, hosiery manufacturers, sizing association members, printing mill owners, Khurianwala Industrial Estate Mill Owners, Chamber of Commerce and ancillary industries took out a rally from District Council Hall to Clock Tower Chowk. The protesters carried black banners, flags besides chanting slogans against the government move. At Clock Tower, the rally was addressed by the leaders of Chamber of Commerce, Textile Exporters Association, Printing Mills Association, Power looms Association. They called for withdrawal of gas hike, restoration of Research & Development Support Facility without discrimination. They asserted it was not possible for the industry to survive in the wake of huge rise in gas price as it would result in escalating production cost of export goods, disabling Pakistani exporters to compete in the international market. The exporters contended that volume-based Research & Development support facility would create monopoly of few exporters and wipe out the small and medium exporters. They pointed out that growing interest rates of banks were crushing down the industry and export. They demanded immediate withdrawal of 10 percent withholding tax on electricity bills and power looms and small industries. Meanwhile, Prominent Industrialist Chairman FIEDMC and former Chairman PTEA and ex-Chairman FDPT Mian Muhammad Latif has demanded of the government to immediately convene a 'textile conference' to bring an end to the strike of textile sector and resolve its problems. Addressing a news conference here Monday, Mian Latif, a prominent industrialist said that textile was mainstay of the national economy". It was providing jobs to 40 percent workforce and contributing more than 80 percent towards GDP, adding that, Pakistan cannot survive if the textile sector was ignored. As the Industry and Agriculture were both interlinked, the collapse of textile industry would cause irreparable loss to agriculture and open a floodgate of unemployment in addition to creating serious law and order situation in the country, he maintained. About the recent textile strike, Mian Latif said crises brewed in the wake of war against terror. He said 9/11 incident hosed challenges and provided opportunities as well but we failed to channelize them as a result of which the textile sector started feeling its heat in early 2004. He said at that time the government was not ready to listen as export figures were rising due to previous commitments and foreign orders. According to him, as the dust settled and crisis surfaced, the government was forced to announce the R&D in a bid to bailout the textile sector. However, the high-ups ignored the main core issues including market access to Pakistanit products, export refinancing facility and other issues relating to cross subsidies. Mian Latif said the present government had inherited the existing complicated and cumbersome political-economic and other issues.