Karachi businessmen close shutter to protest extortionism

Pakistan`s commercial capital on Tuesday observed total strike to protest the growing menace of extortionism.

Last Updated: Apr 05, 2011, 22:55 PM IST

Pakistan`s commercial capital
on Tuesday observed total strike to protest the growing menace of
extortionism

The clashes took place between the supporters of the
Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and those belonging
to the All Karachi Traders Association at the Polo ground
close to the Chief minister`s house.

The one-day shutter down strike was called by the All
Karachi Tajir Ittehad (traders unity) a collective body
representing the small traders and businessmen of the city to
protest what they called government inaction against threats
by criminal elements who are demanding extortions from them.

The Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry had
initially also supported the strike but on Monday backed down
giving the government until April 12 to address the grievances
of the traders and business community.

"The clashes were unfortunate and should not have
happened but the KCCI didn`t support us in this strike and our
members were angry about that," Ateeq Mir who heads the Tajir
Ittehad said.
The clashes took place after the traders started
gathering at the Polo ground to with white flags and banners
denouncing the menace of extortion on the call of their
leaders.

As arguments broke out they were scuffles and even
blows exchanged between the traders before elders intervened.

"What happened today is unfortunate and an attempt by
some political elements to cause disunity among our
community," Saeed Shafiq the President of the KCCI said.

The strike, however, was a big success as all big and
small markets and shops remained closed today with the three
main shopping areas of Saddar, Tariq Road and Hyderai wearing
a deserted look as the traders backed the strike.

Even small traders operating restaurants, pan shops
and other joints kept their businesses closed.

The traders have been demanding of the government to
take action against elements who demand extortions from the
traders and business community or threaten them with death.

"Some of our members have been attacked and injured by
these criminal elements and the authorities do nothing. How
can we run businesses like this how can we pay such heavy
extortions," Mir said.

PTI