KARACHI -  Life in the port city stood still on Wednesday as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement observed a mourning day against a bomb attack on party’s election office at People`s Chowrangi, which killed three people. The NED University of Engineering and Technology, Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology, and Board of Secondary Education Karachi have postponed the exams scheduled for Wednesday. Earlier, the Karachi Private Schools Association announced to keep all schools closed for the day while the Karachi Traders Association (KTA) and the Karachi Transport Ittehad (KTI) also backed the strike call of the MQM.

The attendance in private and government offices, universities and hospitals remained low. The patients faced difficulties in hospitals due the short attendance of the doctors and staff.

MQM chief Altaf Hussain claimed that 25 activists of the MQM were killed in last few days, questioning how voters could come out to cast their vote in such situation.

The KTA announced to reopen markets and trading centres at 4pm and the KTI said that transport would come on roads as the MQM`s day of mourning ends. KTI Chairman Atiq Mir said that the decision for reopening markets came after consulting with MQM leadership.

MQM Deputy Convener Farooq Sattar said that terrorist activities in various parts of Karachi and Quetta indicated that the upcoming polls would not be free, fair and transparent.

Talking to journalists in Karachi, Sattar said that the caretaker government and law enforcement agencies were not performing their responsibility of holding fair election. He added that in Punjab the election atmosphere was fully charged and all parties were holding huge election gatherings and rallies, while the MQM and few other parties were pushed to walls and barred from carrying out their election campaign freely.

Sattar said that the MQM was receiving threats by the militants and criminal groups. “Our offices are being attacked and party candidates and workers being killed. The party is not in a position to hold huge public gathering and rallies.”

He went on to say that the party had no option but to close down party offices and election camps in the city.

He vowed that the MQM would contest general election as foreign observers were present in the country.

He said that there would be a big loss, if the terror-dens were not removed for the city.

Sattar said that the MQM had always share the opinion of Dr Tahirul Qadri on electoral reforms.

The MQM Co-ordination Committee expressed concerns over the silence of all political and religious parties on the incidents of terrorism in Karachi and Quetta, resulting in the deaths of several citizens.

The committee said that three provinces of the country were in the grip of terrorism and the killing of MQM workers was a stark manifestation of terrorism. It was unfortunate that not a single national leader bothered to sympathise with the victims, let alone condemning the terrorism. It appealed to the people to raise voice against terrorism.

MQM chief Altaf Hussain has appealed to the people to take the MQM’s election campaign in their hands and spread its message door-to-door.

Speaking at a condolence meeting held in London on Wednesday, he condemned the bomb blast near the MQM’s election office at Peoples Chowrangi in North Nazimabad area and offered his sorrow on the killing and injuring of MQM workers and supporters.

He said that the forces inimical to the MQM were targeting MQM workers in order to keep it away from the election process. The persistent killings of the MQM workers for the past 10 days brought back the memories of Qasba Aligarh tragedy of 1986 and the operation clean-up of June 19, 1992. “You did not leave me alone in the past in difficult times and inspired the nation with your unity which gave me courage and determination,” he added.