KARACHI - The situation of tension was defused when Muttahida Qaumi Movement leaders asked their supporters to return during a rally against Rangers on Thursday.

Earlier, MQM took out a protest rally from Liaquatabad area which was scheduled to end at Rangers Headquarters near Sindh Assembly. A large number of workers and MQM leaders including Amir Khan, Farooq Sattar, Kanwar Naveed Jamil and others led the rally on motorcycles and other vehicles.

Heavy contingent of police surrounded the area around the Quaid-e-Azam mausoleum and stopped the rally at MA Jinnah Road from going further, barring it from entering the Red Zone. The activists also tried to cross the hurdles, however, the MQM leaders stopped the workers from coming in conflict with the security personnel. The rally turned into a sit-in protest as the police did not allow it to proceed. Carrying banners, placards and party flags, they chanted slogans against the Rangers.

Police officials told the media men that it will not allow the rally to enter the Red Zone area and if they still proceed, they will use water cannons to disperse the crowd. The rally also caused massive traffic jam on the surrounding roads of the area. On the other hand, MQM leaders including Dr Farooq Sattar, Shahid Pasha and M Hussain negotiated with the police officials to let the rally proceed and later announced to end it.

Addressing the rally, MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar said it was the constitutional right of the party to protest. Government should clarified which rule of law is being implemented whether the city is governed by the law of the land or a jungle law, he questioned. He termed the demonstration a rehearsal of MQM’s victory on December 5 (election day). Rejecting the impression of MQM boycott of Local Government elections, he said despite of raids at the party offices and arrest of workers, MQM will not boycott the LG polls in Karachi. He said party is being pushed towards boycotting the LG election by these actions but it will not boycott it. “MQM workers arrested during the raids are innocent. The party will give voluntary arrest after December 5,” he added. MQM grieved over the terrorists attack on Rangers in Ittehad Town but instead of going after the terrorists, it is hunting down the MQM workers and supporters, he said. MQM leader regretted that all the political and religious parties had full freedom to run their election campaign in Karachi but MQM was not being allowed to run its campaign freely. An unannounced ban had been placed on its political activities, he claimed. Sattar demanded the federal government to intervene in the situation and let the MQM take part in the election freely.

It is pertinent to mention here that MQM coordination committee on Wednesday suspended the election campaign by closing down sector, unit and election offices across the city and call to stage a protest rally against the raids of Rangers on party offices. The decision was taken in a joint meeting of Coordination Committees of London and Pakistan after Rangers raided the party office in various areas of the city and rounded up dozens of workers including the local government candidates. Sattar had a telephonic conversation with DG Rangers Sindh in which Sattar assured him of cooperation. Moreover, the DG Rangers had also said that those who will found innocent would be released after investigation.