Delegations from various Karachi merchants on Wednesday continued to meet with leaders of the city’s political parties to seek their support to pressure the Sindh government to allow them to reopen their businesses.
On Monday, a merchant delegation led by All Karachi Tajir Ittehad head Atiq Mir had met with the Qaumi-Pakistan Muttahida Movement to seek their support. On Tuesday, the head of the city of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) attended a merchant protest in North Nazimabad.
JI also held a merchant convention at the party headquarters on Thursday to draw up an action plan after consulting with the merchant leaders. Also on Tuesday, Pakistani leaders Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) met with a merchant delegation led by the head of All City Tajir Ittehad, Sharjeel Goplani.
On Wednesday, Mir and various market leaders met with representatives from the PTI and the Sarzameen Party (PSP) to inform them of the suffering of the traders due to the preventive locking of COVID-19 which took effect since March.
MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman, PTI city president, said at a press conference after the merchant delegation told him and other office administrators about their problems that the purpose of the meeting was to find a solution to this problem.
“We demand that the Sindh government immediately draw up SOPs [standard operating procedures]. Now the payroll class is upset too. It is not right to close Karachi at this time. “
He said that when the PTI had emerged as the largest political party from Karachi in the 2018 general election, the party represented the people of the city, especially the traders.
“The party leadership in Karachi has also told Prime Minister Imran Khan about the situation and the plight of city traders.”
Zaman said the provincial government had subdued Karachi for the care of stepmothers and hid in the Bilawal House bunker while city residents were starving.
The PTI leader assured the traders that he would arrange their meeting with the PM. “There is no system made for online businesses. [Sindh Chief Minister] Murad Ali Shah needs to have sincere people around him. “
Zaman said the Shah must realize that if Karachi is closed, the whole country will be closed. The provincial government does not have the courage to draft an SOP, he added.
The head of the PTI city said his party would raise traders’ concerns. “The next death is starvation, not a new coronavirus, and then everything will get out of hand.”
Mir said on that occasion not only the government, but traders also wanted to fight COVID-19. “We traders demand our legal rights. Our workers are starving. We must be allowed to do business in a safe and limited way. “
He pointed out that Eid al-Fitr was fast approaching, because half of Ramazan was almost gone. “If the Sindh government does not cooperate, we will back down and let the shopkeepers take the lead.”
MPA Saeed Afridi, secretary general of the Karachi PTI; MNA Faheem Khan, additional general secretary; MPA Jamal Siddiqui, information secretary; Raja Azhar MPA; and party leaders Arsalan Mirza, Imran Siddiqui and Tauqeer Ahmed were also present on the occasion.
The delegation led by Mir also met with PSP head Mustafa Kamal at the Pakistan House, the party’s headquarters, where Kamal announced his party’s support for all legitimate demands from city traders.
After the meeting, Kamal said, Karachi, which contributed 68 percent of state revenue to the national finance minister, lost its basic rights, adding that the so-called city representatives sitting at various levels of government were not serious in solving even the basic problems.
“There is a dangerous impression among the Karachi people that first, the status of the port city is changed, then its citizens lose government jobs, then the main institutions are shifted from here, and now the last source of employment that remains – business – is also being destroyed by the provincial government and federal corrupt and incompetent through bias. “
He said PSP strongly condemned the government’s discriminatory approach to the Karachi business community during the lockdown, which reinforced the perception of ulterior motives behind the city disaster.
He also said that the current system and the rulers really failed to solve people’s problems. “People’s patience is running low, and there is no power on Earth that can control the situation if people take to the streets against this corrupt system.”
He said that incompetent and corrupt rulers valued their political and personal interests more than national interests, adding that because the government had failed to ration the people’s doorstep, all traders should be allowed to continue their business activities without discrimination to save people from starvation.
The head of the PSP said the government must devise a strategy for traders, to keep people safe from starvation and to prevent deaths due to COVID-19.
Mir and other business leaders told Kamal about their business problems, and rejected the Sindh government’s online business SOP draft. They say the care of stepmothers with Karachi traders must be stopped, because the virus has attacked an already sick economy.
They demanded that if lock-in SOPs were not imposed on vendors who were already operating in the city, they must also be allowed to reopen their business.
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