KARACHI: The city of ports and hub of economic activities, recorded a loss of approximately Rs12.5 billion on Wednesday on account of the strike call given by Jamaat-e-Islami. Wholesale and retail markets observed a complete shutter-down strike whereas industrial estates managed some production, said members of the business community.
Mian Abrar Ahmed, president of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that some 50 to 60 percent of industrial units remained closed on Wednesday, which resulted in a production loss of Rs8 to 9 billion. “Complete shutdown of industrial units in the city causes a loss of Rs14 billion a day, which was not the case on Wednesday,” he said.
Ahmed further said that numerous industrialists had received death threats in case they opted to resume production. “Some industrialists were threatened with grenade attacks while others received death threats on parchees,” he said.
The business community was not in favour of strikes, he said, as they badly affected the country’s production and exports, which were already on the decline.
Jameel Paracha, vice chairman of All Karachi Tajir Ittehad, said that shopkeepers failed to sell goods worth Rs3.5 billion due to the strike. Therefore, the cumulative loss to shopkeepers and industrialists stands at approximately Rs12.5 billion for the day.
Paracha said that the poor law and order situation and non-availability of public transport in the morning did not allow shopkeepers to resume business.
“Office bearers of the association remain in contact with high officials in the police and in government to keep markets guarded but unfortunately the number of police and rangers personnel on duty decreases when law and order crises take places in the city,” he said.
Another office bearer of a market association, who requested anonymity, said that some people had threatened shopkeepers in the city’s main markets that if they attempted to resume business as usual, they would be attacked.
The situation also affected the transportation of industrial goods and raw material to and from the ports. Therefore, the import and exports business received a setback due to the strike, said a garment exporter, adding that garments exports have declined to half at present against $15 billion recorded in the previous fiscal year.
Wholesale and retail markets including Jodia Bazar, Sarafa Bazar, Urdu Bazar, Jama Cloth, Light House, Empress Market, Saddar, Pharmaceutical Market, Le-Market, Liaquat Market, Hadri, Liquatabad, Babar Market, Azizabad Furniture Market and others remained closed.
Moreover, petrol pumps of different oil companies under the flagship of Pakistan State Oil, Caltex Oil, Total-Parco Pakistan and Shell Pakistan kept their outlets sealed with different kinds of barriers.
Also, outlets of foreign chains - particularly those of European countries or of the US – such as KFC, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut were not only kept closed but were covered with black fabric.