KARACHI, Sept 13: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement on Friday staged a demonstration here in protest against arrest of its “hundreds of innocent workers” including a former provincial lawmaker as well as “a plot to politicise the operation initially launched against terrorists and extortionists”.
A large number of MQM workers, including women and children, assembled outside the Karachi Press Club to participate in the protest.
Carrying placards inscribed with demands such as ‘stop genocide of Mohajirs’ and ‘arrest criminals, not Mohajirs’, the protesters shouted slogans against a crackdown on MQM workers, registration of a ‘concocted’ case against former MPA Nadeem Hashmi and diversion of the operation against this particular party.
Addressing the protesters, MQM leader Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said that his party wanted to tell the president, the prime minister and the federal interior minister that it wanted peace because it had 85 per cent mandate of the city population.
He said that the law-enforcement agencies were carrying out raids in MQM strongholds to recover illicit weapons but they did not dare enter those localities where they feared armed resistance or retaliation from criminals.
He said that the unlawful raids and arrests could not scare the MQM.
“Our desire of peace is being taken as our weakness,” he remarked, and advised the authorities concerned to respect the MQM public mandate.
Dr Siddiqui, who is also a member of the National Assembly from Hyderabad, made it clear that the MQM and the people of Karachi would resist tooth and nail any move aimed at pushing them against the wall. Another MQM leader, Aamir Khan, recalled that a meeting of stakeholders had decided to set up an oversight committee to monitor the operation but no such committee has so far been formed. “Unfortunately, the targeted operation has been diverted against the MQM,” he told the protesters.
Mr Khan urged the government to forthwith withdraw the ‘fake’ cases against ex-MPA Hashmi.He said the MQM would raise its voice against injustices and illegal use of government machinery in all four provinces as well as Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir.
Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Faisal Subzwari said the government and the law-enforcement agencies were giving a political colour to the operation, which was originally started against criminals, extortionists and terrorists in Karachi.
He said that conspiracies were being hatched to make the operation controversial. “The MQM wants action against criminals but there is a need to know at whose behest Nadeem Hashmi and other workers have been arrested and booked in false cases.”
Later, the demonstration ended peacefully.