Protests in Karachi over SC order of PM's arrest

Protests in Karachi over SC order of PM's arrest

Protests and firing incidents were witnessed in several parts of Karachi and in some interior areas of the Sindh province today after the Supreme Court ordered to arrest Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaz Ashraf for allegedly receiving bribes in power projects.

A three-judge apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry set a 24-hour deadline for authorities to arrest Ashraf and over 20 other suspects.

Shortly after the judgement was announced, trouble started in several parts of the city with mobs burning tyres, pelting passing vehicles and resorting to aerial firing causing harassment and fear in the areas.

Officials said that after these incidents in Korangi industrial area, Landhi, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Sohrab Goth, Mauripur road, Gora Kabrastan and Shahrah-e-Faisal heavy traffic jams were witnessed as people panicked and started closing down their offices, businesses and shops.

"In several areas where the trouble took place, markets, shops and petrol pumps closed down out of sheer fear," an official said.

An official of the provincial home department said that police and rangers personnel had been rushed to the troubled areas to restore order.

No casualty or injuries were reported in either of these incidents, a police official said.

Interior areas of Larkana which is the stronghold of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, Hyderabad, Sukkur and Mirpurkhas also witnessed similar incidents with people protesting against the Supreme Court order.

Speculations about the future of the ruling government and democracy in the country remained rife throughout the day after the Supreme Court decision and the long march assembled in Islamabad by influential cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri.

"There is fear in the city because people still remember the violence, killings and anarchy that have taken place in Karachi when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi in 2007 and more recently in the protests over the anti-Islam film on You tube," political analyst, Akbar Siraj said.

A leader of the Mutthaida Qaumi Movement said the leaders and ministers of the ruling PPP government had not helped matters by giving inflammatory statements on television channels against the judiciary and the long march in Islamabad, terming them as a conspiracy to derail the democratic system in the country.

The Sindh information minister Sharjeel Memon said the government had been expecting such a situation for a while now as the hawks who didn't want democracy in the country were active once again.

"The timing of the SC should decide for yourself what is happening in the country," Memon said.

Ironically the target killings have also continued unabated in the city with seven people killed yesterday.

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