KARACHI Sanity prevailed at last as the fire sparked by PPPs Zulfikar Mirza was put out in the aftermath of his apology and an appeal by MQM chief Altaf Hussain to protesting workers. But the tranquil came after the venomous remarks of Sindh Senior Minister stoked a string of gory protests which claimed at least 18 lives and left some 25 others wounded, while 35 vehicles and 12 shops were set on fire by the demonstrators. President Asif Ali Zardari summoned Zulfiqar Mirza to Islamabad immediately to clarify his irresponsible statement, Presidential Spokesman Farhatulla Babar said in a statement. In a message from London, MQM Chief Altaf Hussain appealed to the workers to put an end to their 'peaceful demonstrations, after which the protesters began to return homes. Altaf said the 'Haq Prast people throughout the country have registered their protest against the use of uncalled for language. Therefore, I earnestly appeal to the people to suspend their protest and immediately go back to their homes. Soon after the appeal, the businesses and shops began to reopen in various parts of Karachi, the focal point of the protest that throughout the day wore a deserted look. In other cities of Sindh, demonstrations were ended after the appeal from the MQM chief. The furious protesters were also soothed by an apology from the offender himself. The PPP firebrand apologised saying that if his statement has hurt the sentiments of anyone he was sorry for that. He said the remarks were his personal opinion and he did not mean to hurt the sentiments of anyone. The sacrifices given by the Urdu speaking people cannot be ignored. Sources said the statement was issued after PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Federal Minister Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain met Zulfikar Mirza on Thursday and persuaded him to apologise, telling him that his statement had further aggravated the already precarious Karachi situation. But before Altaf issued his appeal for calm, Mohajir Rabita Council (MRC) rejected the Mirzas apology and demanded President Asif Ali Zardari to dismiss the Sindh Senior Minister. A statement issued by MRC further warned that if Zulfikar Mirza was not dismissed, President Zardari would be responsible for the dire consequences. The MRC also gave notice to Zulfikar Mirza and Awami National Party (ANP) leader Shahi Syed to leave Karachi within 48 hours. But the ANP was quick to disassociate itself from the Mirzas volley of unfortunate words. A spokesman of ANP Sindh chapter said that the party had nothing to do with Mirzas statement as it was his personal comments. The followers of Wali Khan accept the sacrifices rendered by Urdu speaking people for the making of Pakistan from the core of their hearts, the spokesman said. In view of the protests and the incidents of violence, roads leading to the house of Dr Mirza were blocked for all kinds of traffic. The Mohajir Rabita Council also rejected the apology tendered by Interior Minister Rehman Malik to the MQM chief Altaf Hussain and the party, demanding that Zulfikar Mirza directly apologise to Altaf Hussain. In his effort to douse the flames, Rehman Malik on Thursday said Altaf Hussain is a leader of a 'big party having a large heart. He urged the MQM chief to ask his party workers to remain calm. Talking to media persons here Rehman Malik said: We are sorry and upset over Wednesdays statement of Dr Zulfiqar Mirza and say sorry to Urdu speaking community. Prior to Mirzas apology and Altafs appeal, the MQM held country-wide protests. Showing extreme annoyance and displeasure, the MQM leaders, workers and people came hard on Mirza while violent protests started in all major cities of Sindh including, Karachi, Hyderabad and Mirpur. But Karachi was most affected city which was once again caught in the crossfire. At least 18 people including a Rangers personnel and a woman were killed and over 25 others sustained injuries, whereas 35 vehicles and 12 shops were set on fire in different parts of the city in the incidents of violence on Wednesday night and Thursday. The University of Karachi and Federal Urdu University put off their exams. Karachi Transport Ittehad (KTI) had announced a complete wheel-jam while Karachi Traders Association also announced a complete strike across the city. The situation also forced the early closure at the Karachi Stock Exchange due to poor attendance. Unidentified men opened firing and set several vehicles ablaze. Reports of firing were received from Shah Faisal, Gulistan-e-Johar, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, University Road, Golimar, Ancholi, Abul Hassan Isphahanai Road and Liaquatabad. After firing incidents, petrol pumps, CNG stations, hotels and shops were closed, while scant public transport vehicles were witnessed at the roads. Police at Maripur Road resorted to firing at the protesters, resulting in injuries to 8 protesters, one of whom succumbed to his wounds during treatment. Another rally of the protesters was attacked by unidentified assailants in Baldia Town area where two people were shot dead and many others were injured. A Rangers personal was shot dead near Maskan Intersection, Gulshan-e-Iqbal in Mobina Town Police precincts. In another incident, a police man was shot dead near Jamia Milia Road. The victim, Aftab was deployed in Razaqabad Training Centre. A stray bullet killed a woman while she was at her home in Hussainian Area of Azizabad police station. An unidentified man was shot dead near Habib Bank Chowrangi in the limits of Site A police station. Asif Shah, a watchman of an under-construction house, was killed by shooting in Gulshan-e-Maymar. Unidentified men also shot dead a passerby at Jinnah Abad, Old Haji Camp while another man was gunned down at Tariq Road area. A man was killed in Gulistan-e-Jauhar while while another was shot dead in Abdullahabad, Sarjani Town. Dead body of a man was found from Lee Market. Scores of people also been sustained bullet wounds in different areas of the city and were shifted to the different hospitals in the city. Unidentified miscreant torched at least 10 buses in North Nazimabad, at 2-K bus stop, and 20 vehicles in Korangi area. Two trucks were set ablaze in Baldia Mohajir camp and another two in Nazimabad, while several vehicles were burnt in other areas including Up Moor, Bilal colony, FB Area, Saddar, Sharifabad, Power House, Nipa Chowrangi, Landhi, Shah Faisal Colony and Sharah Pakistan. Karachi DIG Saud Mirza confirmed the number of casualties and the injured and claimed of arresting 161 miscreants from different areas besides the recovery of weapons. The Rangers cordoned off many areas and started search operations for controlling the worsening situation. The Rangers also arrested at least 11 people from different areas and recovered weapons from their possession.