Karachi in chaos after Altaf’s arrest

Businesses closed, exams postponed

KARACHI – Soon after the news of Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain spiraled, Karachi and interior Sindh areas descended into chaos and panic, bringing all routine activities to a standstill.

Soon after the arrest of the MQM leader in London, panicked shopkeepers and market stall owners rushed to close their businesses for fear of violence, residents said. Unidentified persons had taken to the streets and the city was in a state of frenzy with a number of neighbourhoods experiencing traffic jams.

Incidents of aerial firing were reported from some areas of Karachi including Gulshan-e-Iqbal, leaving at least three people injured. At least nine vehicles, including two buses, were set on fire in different parts of Karachi. According to rescue sources, a mini bus was set ablaze near Colony Gate in Shara-e-Faisal in Karachi.

Another bus was torched in Korangi. Two vehicles were torched in Gulberg areas. According to reports, one auto rickshaw was set on fire in North Nazimabad. Sources say rangers have apprehended two suspects. Sensing closure of the city, motorists started to throng petrol filling stations in large numbers as well as office-goers leaving their offices.

Intermediate board examinations scheduled in the city has been postponed. Several areas of Karachi have also been shut with disappearance of public transport from roads. Karachi transport body announced to take their vehicle off roads in view of the deteriorating law and order. Additional Inspector General of Karachi Police has directed police to remain alert to cope with any untoward incident.

Mobile signals have been jammed in several areas and cable has also shut down. Altaf’s supporters gathered outside the party’s headquarters Nine-Zero, chanting slogans in favour of the MQM leader. They said they would continue protesting until he was freed. Reports were also received from Nawabshah, Mirpurkhas and Hyderabad where business activities came to a halt after news of Altaf’s arrest spread.

Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad has contacted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Interior Affairs Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali and other top officials of the federal government regarding this issue. Also, security to the British Consulate in Karachi has also been beefed up in view of the looming breakdown of law and order situation.

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