Countrywide jubilations, protest marches

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Salahuddin Haider

Karachi

While jubilations over pro-Nawaz verdict continued throughout the country, Peoples Party simultaneously carried out protest marches for power and water shortage practically all over Sindh, the city of Karachi stole the limelight being the centre-stage of politics where MQM Pakistan, PML-N, PPP and PSP displayed their own show of strength.
A city of over twenty million souls, and economic hub of the country, thus buzzed with activity despite the weekly holiday of Sunday. While the MQM Pakistan’s rally for the rights of the Karachiites was indeed impressive, the PPP march against federal government, and the party in power in Centre, and Punjab, were no less important, but the strongest appeal for a million march on May 14, came from the Pak Sarzameen Party chief, Mustafa Kamal to press the PPP administration to yield to demands for development allocation, and acceptance of financial authority denied so far to the municipal representatives of a city of 20 million souls.
“ Our first phase of protest concludes today” announced Kamal to wind up his week-long camp in front of the Karachi Press Club” but reminded the authorities that their struggle was far from over and in fact was entering a new and perhaps a more crucial phase after two weeks from now.
All three principal political players—the PML-N, PPP and MQM Pakistan, chose sensitive routes to build public opinion in their favour, but although this was the for the first time in atleast recent memory that rivals had picked a particular day, no untoward incident was reported from anywhere. This was something unusual and a happy augury for the future, for it depicted a sign of maturity by political activists.
A spirit of accommodation, respect for law, and disciplined behaviour was something novel in Pakistan, but observers agreed that a promising change was too vivid to ignore on April 23.
MQM Pakistan convener Dr Farooq Sattar led his party’s impressive rally from Liaquatabad to Quaid-e-Azam Mazar, drawing huge supporters, to prove that the organisation, despite split or factionalism, was still capable of calling the shots in their power base.
Banners, placards, slogans, all were there on their route, covered in considerable length of time, and the PPP too took an important route upto Press Club, and the Nawaz party began from Karsaz Road, using the main Share Faisal to celebrate the judicial victory for prime minister by apex court.
Farooq Sattar named his rally as “listen to the voice of Karachi” demanding that a city which provides 65 percent revenue to federal government, and 95 percent to Sindh, has been victim of deliberate neglect and has to be given its due right.
Sindh’s senior minister Nisar Khuhro led the PPP show attacking the rival PML-N of depriving the4 southern province of much needed electricity and water, and denying funds, according to the formula of the National Finance Commission.
But Mustafa Kamal claimed that it was because of him and his colleagues that voice for the rights of Karachiites had reached almost every home, and their rival Farooq Sattar was forced to take out a protest march, lest they became a loser in the power game.