KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has kicked off its protesting sit-in in several areas of the metropolis early Friday morning as a part of strategy to shut down the city with nominal traffic on the city roads.
The PTI activists set tires on fire in front of Insaf House on Shahra-e-Faisal to block the main artery of the megacity; however, police baton-charged and broke up the protesters and cleared the road for vehicular traffic.
Shara-e-Faisal has been blocked at Star Gate where PTI actvists set tires on fire. It is worth noting here that there is two-way traffic on a single track of Shahra-e-Faisal.
Roads have been barricaded in different areas of the city including New Karachi Power House, Native Jetty, Landhi, Qayyumabad, Teen Talwaar, Numaish Chowrangi and New Sabzi Mandi, suspending the traffic flow.
Meantime, National Highway has been blocked resulting in long queues of vehicles.
Petrol pumps have also been closed in some areas of the city.
It should be mentioned here that PTI has announced to shut down Karachi today as a strategy to amp up pressure on the government led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for vote audit of May 2013 general elections. The PTI believes the elections were massively rigged that led N-League into corridors of powers.
The PTI Karachi appealed to the traders to join hands in their protest by keeping their businesses and commercial activities suspended today.
The PTI chief Imran Khan said the roads of the metropolis will be closed for vehicular traffic for the daylong shutdown; however, no one will be forced to pull the shutters down on their businesses.
Imran Khan appeals
Chairman PTI Imran Khan declared his party wouldn’t force anyone to close down their business.
“I will personally lead the Karachi shutdown from the front, but not at the cost of peace. The PTI is only appealing for one business day’s sacrifice from Karachiites. Trust me we have no intention of twisting anyone’s arm into doing it,” the PTI captain said while speaking to his party’s sit-inners in Islamabad.
Khan requested all those residents of Karachi who wanted to change their circumstances for the better to stand by the PTI.
“If you are satisfied with the incumbent government’s policies then do as you please, but if not then help me bring about a change to build a ‘New Pakistan’ for all of you,” the PTI leader boomed sending a loud and clear message to the coastal city’s business community.
MQM gives green signal
Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) head, Altaf Hussain said that holding a protest demonstration is the PTI’s democratic right, saying, “Imran Khan can stage a rally, a sit-in, or a public meeting in Karachi as he pleases.”
“I am sure no political party will object to the PTI peaceful protest in Karachi”, the MQM leader said.
PPP assures security for Imran
Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah pledged a security cover for the protestors during Karachi-wide protest today, saying, “First, we will ensure the safety of PTI top brass as well as its rank & file, but no one will be allowed to take law into their own hands. Second, none of Pakistan People’s Party workers will be in the field so a collision is out of question.”
Speaking on the occasion, Sindh information minister, Sharjeel Memon, said that following Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s doctrine of reconciliation, PPP led government had always believed in the democratic rights of other political stakeholders.
“The PTI is welcome to protest peacefully in Karachi. And I’m solemnly pledging that Chairman PTI, Imran Khan’s security protocol will be even tighter than that of the chief minister,” Memon said. –