Dawn Newspaper Report
ISLAMABAD, May 14: A sense of anger and grief was more than evident
on the streets across the country on Monday, as most businesses
and shops from Khyber to Karachi remained closed. In many cities
and towns, public transport remained off the road, bringing normal
life to a halt on what was supposed to be the first working day
of the week.
The strike was observed on a call given by the combined opposition
in protest against mayhem in Karachi on Saturday when hundreds
of armed men took control of the streets and Chief Justice Iftikhar
Mohammed Chaudhry and his lawyers were prevented from leaving
the airport to attend a bar association function in downtown Karachi.
The nationwide shutdown was on a scale not seen for many years.
So widespread and effective was the response to the oppositions
call that even traders in Islamabad, who ignored such pleas in
the past, kept their businesses shut throughout the day. The shutdown
in adjoining Rawalpindi was more comprehensive, with even smaller
bazaars remaining closed.
Reeling under the after-effects of Saturdays bloodbath,
Karachi also observed a complete strike and witnessed more bloodshed
when another four people were killed, taking the death toll in
the ongoing violence to 46.
Two of those killed, reportedly belonging to Pakistan Peoples
Party, were gunned down when a contingent of Rangers, who have
been empowered to shoot on sight anyone involved in rioting, opened
fire to disperse protesters in the Lyari area.
Residents said a large number of people had taken to the street
in protest when a police contingent forced shopkeepers to pull
up their shutters. They said a Rangers party reached the
area and opened fire on the protesters.
However, a Rangers spokesman categorically denied involvement
of their personnel and attributed the killings to the Lyari gang
All commercial and shopping centres, markets, showrooms and shops
were closed and public transport remained off the roads. The entire
city wore a deserted look throughout the day.
Life crawled back to normalcy in the evening, though scattered
incidents of violence were reported from certain violence-prone
localities in the downtown and western district.
A few petrol pumps and gas stations resumed their business late
in the evening, but most of them preferred to keep them covered
with marquees for the third consecutive day.
Hyderabad and most other cities and towns in the interior of
Sindh also remained completely shut. Tharparkar, the hometown
of Sindh Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim, and a couple of other
places ignored the strike call.
The offices of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in several towns
faced protesters ire and were ransacked.
There was almost a complete business shutdown in Lahore and also
in most other cities and towns of Punjab. Lawyers boycotted court
proceedings and took out processions. They were supported by political
parties, NGOs and the public.In Lahore, the wholesale markets
wore a deserted look and traffic was thin. A large number of lawyers,
political and human rights activists rallied on The Mall in sweltering
heat to protest against Karachi killings.
They demanded registration of murder cases against President
Gen Pervez Musharraf and MQM chief Altaf Hussain. The public also
joined the rally.
I am here to mourn the deaths, said Nisar Sheikh.
It has happened to the people in Karachi (today), it can
happen to us tomorrow. Everybody knows who is behind the killings,
and everybody knows nothing would be done to take the culprits
The strike call received a positive response also in the NWFP
and Balochistan. In Peshawar and Quetta, protest rallies were
taken out. Even the small town of Chaman, situated along the Pakistan-Afghan
border, saw a shutdown.
Another feature of Mondays strike was that it was largely
peaceful, with Karachi and a couple of other places being the