Addressing the participants of a rally at Numaish Roundabout, MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi said that his party never opposed the arrest of criminals, however, raids at party offices and subsequent arrest of party workers is spreading panic among the masses.
He said that the MQM will not boycott the LB election scheduled on December 5.
On his turn, Farooq Sattar said, “We are political workers and so we opted for a political course of protest”.
“We are peaceful people, but if we wanted, we would cross all obstacles and reach Rangers Headquarters,” he added.
Sattar said that they wanted to exercise their democratic right by staging a peaceful protest reaching at the Rangers Headquarters.
The MQM lawmaker said today’s rally was a rehearsal of celebrations which will mark his party’s triumph in Dec 5 elections.
Earlier to this, Sattar held talks with police officials and party leaders directed the workers to remain peaceful and not to force their way ahead crossing the barricades.
Earlier in the evening, a stand-off situation had developed in Karachi by Thursday evening as thousands of MQM activists taking part in protest rally were heading towards the Rangers Headquarters on Dr Ziauddin Ahmed Road even as a senior police official said that the participants would be stopped if they tried to move past the Numaish Roundabout (at the beginning of one of Karachi’s main traffic arteries M A Jinnah Road).
The Deputy Inspector General for Police for Karachi’s District South told ARY News that his men had set up a multi-layered cordon at the Numaish Roundabout and that the agreement was only to take the rally to this point.
“If they try and move past then we will have no choice but to stop them. We have water cannons as well and they may be used if necessary,” he said. He also said that Section 144 which prohibits the assembly of five or more persons was in effect in the city’s ‘Red Zone’, where the Governor House and the Chief Minister House were located, and both of these are close to the Rangers building which is housed in the colonial Jinnah Courts complex.
The party, which has been facing an operation carried out by the Rangers for several months has in recent days complained that its workers were being detained as they were preparing to carry out electoral activities relating to Karachi’s local elections scheduled for December 5. It has also said that its posters, banners and hoardings put up all over the city as part of the local elections’ preparations were removed and that this was being done only in the case of the MQM.
It has said that it wants to register a peaceful protest in front of the headquarters of the Rangers on Dr Ziauddin Ahmed Road, right in front of Polo Ground and a stone’s throw from Shaheen Complex in the heart of Karachi’s business and commercial district.
We don’t want to break the law or disturb the peace: Amir Khan
MQM leader Amir Khan told an ARY News reporter that the party would abide by the law and would not disturb the peace. At around 5.40 pm, activists of the party began reaching Numaish Roundabout and were staying put there.