KARACHI/ISLAMABAD - A shutdown was observed in Karachi and in some areas of Hyderabad as well parts of interior Sindh on Wednesday following the arrest of a former provincial MQM legislator.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain condemned the arrest of Nadeem Hashmi, claiming that Sindh government was conducting ‘one-sided’ action against MQM leaders and activists.
In a statement issued from MQM’s London secretariat, Altaf asked provincial government to explain reasons and tell under which laws the former MPA was taken into custody. Altaf said he had always advised his party workers to remain calm and patient and “appealed for the same today”.
Altaf termed the ongoing targeted operation in Karachi a replay of 1992.
Hashmi was arrested late Tuesday over murder of two policemen in Karachi’s North Nazimabad area and was subsequently shifted to Pirabad Police Station. He is accused of firing on a police mobile in Haideri area earlier the same day in which policemen Iqbal Arif and Muhammad Ali were killed.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvaiz Kayani met on Wednesday and discussed the measures taken by federal government to bring normalcy to the troubled areas of country, particularly the port city of Karachi. They agreed that operation in Karachi should be across the board and free of any political pressure.
Federal Information Minister Pervez Rasheed said on Wednesday that all parties, including the MQM, were consulted over the Karachi issue and that all steps taken in the city were with the consensus of all parties. He added that certain decisions were made which had to be implemented.
An emergency session of the MQM’s Rabita (coordination) Committee was held at the party’s London and Karachi headquarters on Wednesday to decide the course of action over the arrest of party members. Earlier in the day, Deputy Opposition Leader in Sindh Assembly, Khwaja Izharul Hasan of MQM, along with others reached Pirabad police station to get information about Hashmi’s arrest.
Izhar said MQM was not against targeted operation also but the ‘arrest of innocent’ workers had raised questions over operation’s neutrality. He said his party was being punished for demanding the handing over of Karachi’s administration to the army.
Tension engulfed the city as markets, businesses, shops and fuel stations shut down in several areas after the arrest of the former lawmaker was reported on TV news channels. Public transport and traffic remained sparse on roads. Moreover, Karachi Transport Ittehad declared that buses would remain off the roads.
The All Private School Management Association announced a closure of all private schools in Karachi. Academic and administrative activities at the Sindh Madrasatul Islam, Karachi University and Federal Urdu University too stood suspended and all exams scheduled for the day were postponed.
Two persons were killed in separate incidents of violence in Malir and Abul Hassan Ispahani Road areas. A vehicle was torched near Nasir Jump area in Korangi locality. Another vehicle was set on fire near Rabia City in Gulistan-i-Jauhar area of Karachi whereas a truck was set alight near Two-Minute Chowrangi in Karachi’s North Karachi area.
The situation in Hyderabad city also remained tense as markets, shops and schools were partially closed. Rangers personnel patrolled the streets of Hyderabad and kept engaged in checking of vehicles and pedestrians in the city. Reports of partial shutdown were also received from some other parts of Sindh.
Meanwhile, rangers and police continued the targeted operation in various localities of Karachi and claimed to have arrested more than 50 suspects. The majority of the raids were conducted in the MQM dominated areas and majority of the suspects belonged to the Muttahida.
Sources said that Prime Minister Nawaz in his meeting with Gen Kayani stressed the need for restoring in Karachi at every cost. They said the two leaders agreed that bringing normalcy to the business capital of the country was essential for economic turnaround. They also discussed situation in Balochistan and agreed to discuss the issue threadbare in coming days.
The military and civilian leadership also discussed the ways and means and possible mediators to be engaged for initiation of dialogue with various factions of Taliban. It was decided that the follow up sessions on the implementation of decisions taken at all parties conference would also be arranged from time to time to keep the political leadership on board on the development on this front.