Pakistan’s largest city and business hub was paralysed Friday on a strike call given by Imran Khan’s party as part of its countrywide protests against the Nawaz Sharif government for allegedly rigging last year’s polls.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief Khan claimed that the strike by his party in Karachi was a big success and vowed to continue the campaign to create a “new Pakistan”.
The cricketer-turned-politician reached Karachi to a rousing welcome in the afternoon as the city remained paralysed due to the PTI’s strike call addressed hundreds of charged up workers and supporters at the Nursery junction on the Shahrah-e-Faisal road leading to the Airport.
The PTI announced the end of the shutdown after Imran ended his speech and headed for the airport.
“Today the citizens of Karachi have supported us and the people of Lahore will also support us on December 15,” Khan, clad in a white shalwar kameez with the PTI flag draped around his neck, said.
Markets, shops, educational institutions and petrol pumps remained closed in many parts of the metropolitan city since early morning and with sparse public and private transport on the roads the city wore a deserted look as PTI leaders, workers and supporters held protest sit-ins at around 38 points in the city blocking main arteries and roads.
At many points, including the upscale areas of Clifton and Defence, the protest sit-ins were dominated by women workers and supporters of the party.
The strike was enforced by the PTI as part of its ongoing protest against alleged rigging in the last general elections by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).
They was no major incident of violence reported from any part of the city although a small PTI rally going from Lyari to join the main rally in Nursery was dispersed in panic after unknown miscreants threw a cracker in the crowd.
He said the PTI protests and sit-ins in different cities of Pakistan would continue until a judicial commission holds inquiry into the rigged election results.
Political analysts credited the PTI’s successful and largely peaceful strike to the late night announcement by the chief of the Mutthaida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Altaf Hussain that he supported Khan’s right to protest.
The PTI call to shutdown Faisalabad earlier this week ended in violence after clashes between its workers and those of the PML(N) and police.
Sharif reduces power tariffs to upstage anti-govt protests
Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Friday reduced nationwide power tariffs to provide relief to people in an apparent bid to upstage protests by opposition leader Imran Khan in Pakistan’s commercial hub Karachi. Sharif Friday announced the reduction in power tariff by Rs 2.32 per unit and hinted at further reduction in petroleum prices next month. “The aim of my government is to end power shortages and reduce tariffs,” he said at a briefing in Peshawar.