Rehan Siddiqui / 27 April 2013
KARACHI - Businesses, shops and schools remained closed in Karachi while there was partial shutdown in other major cities of Sindh on Friday on the strike call of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to observe a day of mourning after a second attack on their election office in three days.
The shutdown of business activities in the country’s commercial centre for two days, Tuesday and Thursday of the current week, according to the traders and industrialists caused losses of nearly Rs20 billion, a damaging blow to the trade and industry as well as the national exchequer.
Later in the afternoon, the MQM reversed its decision and advised the businesses, transporters and petrol pumps to resume their activities but the party claimed it had achieved its objective.
Like Tuesday all major markets, educational institutions, petrol pumps pulled their shutters down and the public transport remained off roads fearing attacks on their properties after the MQM advised citizens to stay indoor to show solidarity with the party.
The second attack on Thursday night killed six people and more than a dozen others injured when a bomb exploded near a temporary election office of the MQM in North Nazimabad.
Besides the fatalities, which included three brothers, Thursday’s explosion damaged buildings and vehicles. Bomb Disposal Squad officials said that four to five kilogrammes of explosive material was used in the device and the material used in Tuesday’s and Thursday’s blasts was similar in nature and home-made.
Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the attack. “This is in continuation of our policy to target three political parties, the Awami National Party, the MQM and the Pakistan People’s Party,” he said in his message delivered to the media from an undisclosed location. He warned that such attacks will continue.