KARACHI - The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) observed Sunday as a ‘black day’ against Pakistan People's Party leader Syed Khursheed Shah's use of the word Muhajir allegedly as a swearword.

During the day, the city presented a deserted look owing to the strike. Fear and uncertainty persisted but fortunately no major untoward incident occurred.

There is not much business activity on Sundays normally but businesses like petrol pumps and CNG stations too remained closed in various parts of the city because of MQM’s protest. Transport, both public and private, was also thin. Entry tests scheduled for the day at University of Karachi and Benazir Medical University, Lyari were postponed.

All Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chairman Atiq Mir said that the business activities will resume on Monday (today). MQM’s call for the black day affected whatever business activities are there in the metropolis on the weekend, he added. Following the MQM call, Karachi Transport Ittehad Chairman Irshad Bukhari had announced keeping vehicles off the road.

To avoid any untoward incident, security arrangements including street patrols and snap-checking were beefed up and the law enforcers were asked to take strict action against anyone found forcing shutdown.

The MQM held a protest demonstration at Shahra-e-Quaideen against Khursheed Shah's statement. A large number of party workers including women and children reached the venue in rallies, holding party flags and placards and chanting slogans against the PPP leader. Addressing the participants of the demonstration, MQM Deputy Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui announced to embark on a campaign for formation of 20 new administrative units in the country after the month of Muharram.

He said there was a huge difference between Muhajirs (migrants) and refugees, adding: “We are the people whose migration turned Hindustan into Pakistan”. Muhajirs are not only the owners of Sindh but also of Pakistan, he said.

Claiming the rally a huge public gathering, Siddiqui said that it was not a Jinnah Park rally, it was the gathering of Altaf Hussain supporters. Siddiqui later announced ending the black day protests, and appealed to the traders and transporters to resume their routine activities. He appealed to the religious scholars, jurists and clerics of all schools of thought to maintain sectarian harmony, peace and brotherhood on the occasion of Muharram.

MQM senior leader Dr Farooq Sattar also strongly condemned Khursheed Shah’s remarks and said the uncalled-for action of the PPP leader has started a movement against the feudal lords of Sindh while this movement will establish Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan.

“For years the feudal lords had been extending their control over the resources of the entire country but we will not let this oppression to take root in the urban areas of Sindh,” he said. He said the people of Sindh tremendously responded on MQM’s call for the black day and made it successful.

MQM Coordination Committee member Haider Abbas Rizvi said that it was the rally of Muhajirs. He said there were two Islamic states whose formation involved massive migration of people – first was the state of Madina which was formed after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions migrated to that city and the second was Pakistan which was established in the name of Islam and people migrated to it in large numbers. MQM leader Rauf Siddiqui said that the person who leaves his country and home for religion is Muhajir. Khursheed Shah publicly humiliated the word Muhajir. Shah should study the history if he does not know about it, he added.