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Karachi traders hold off on keeping shops open till 8pm

Sindh Minister for Information Nasir Hussain Shah speaking to the media, in Karachi, on June 5, 2021. — YouTube

After talks with the Sindh government, Karachi’s Tajir Action Committee on Saturday said it had agreed to delay their decision till Monday of keeping shops open till 8pm.

Minister for Information Nasir Hussain Shah, while speaking to the media, said that the committee had been invited for talks today at the Commissioner House.

“We asked them to delay their decision till Monday,” said the minister, adding that by then, the larger extent of their demands would be met and issues resolved.

Till then, shops will continue to shut down at 6pm.

Shah said the committee had put forth complaints of the attitude displayed by police and the administration.

“We have suspended the Station House Officer of Saudabad after receiving complaints,” he said, adding that the government will also look into the other complaints.

Shah said that coordination committees will be formed at the district level so that closer contact can be established between the trader organisations and the administration.

He said the traders will be taken into confidence prior to making decisions that affect them. “We do not wish for the economic murder of anyone,” he said.

The minister said that the Sindh government did not enjoy taking such decisions. Curbs are placed for the protection of people, he said.

He added that all decisions are always based on recommendations by the National Command and Operation Centre.

“The prime minister himself identified Karachi and Hyderabad as areas where cases are on the rise,” he said.

Shah regretted that some people were making statements based on hate and ethnic politics.

“When markets were closed in Lahore, Islamabad, and Peshawar, no one said anything,” he said, adding: “The MQM and PTI are only engaging in politicking.”

Circling back to the traders, he said the Sindh government is grateful they took their decision back. “A lot of people tell us not to hold negotiations and simply implement decisions by force,” he said, implying that the government is not in favour of such actions.

He said that the government will hold a meeting on Monday to discuss the issues the traders face and the demands they have put forward.

The minister also spoke of the governments plans to increase green cover in the city and invited everyone to plant as many trees as they can in their neighbourhoods.

He complained of the Centre not providing the province its due share of Rs84 billion as part of the National Finance Commission Award.

“The economy has not improved; its all lies,” he added.

Speaking of the Opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement alliance, he questioned who it was that did not want it to remain.

“We made the PDM, we are not the ones that weakened it,” he said, referring to the PPP.

Traders protest govt’s ‘unilateral’ moves

A day earlier the Tajir Action Committee had announced that starting June 5 (Saturday), traders will keep shops open till 8pm.

A notification by the committee said that the government had made no contact with traders, had not accepted a single demand of theirs, and only acted “unilaterally”.

“If the police resort to use of force or attempt to seal markets, we will protest,” said the notification.

Traders put forth demands in media briefing

On Tuesday, the committee had held a press conference to demand that the Sindh government allow businesses to remain open till 8pm, among several other things.

The committee leaders asked that they be allowed to close businesses for one day instead of the two lockdown days being observed right now.

They also asked the government to withdraw the powers given to the magistrate to seal markets and impose fines on businesses.

The committee said that the federal and Sindh governments should not make decisions without consulting businessmen. They also said that their demands should be accepted within 72 hours or else they will announce a new plan of action.

Businessman Atiq Mir remarked that it was only the MQM that asked them about the difficulties they were facing.

“Sindh Government and NCOC are ignoring us, in Sindh the education minister is making decisions related to businesses,” said Mir. He warned that if businesses in Karachi are not allowed to open past 6pm then they will protest.

Meanwhile, businessman Sharjeel Goplani alleged that the district administration took Rs1 million as a bribe from the mobile market and also took valuable mobile phones from them. He added that businessmen were demanding governor’s rule in the province.

The committee also demanded that special incentives be given to businessmen in the upcoming budget.

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