Editorial : Senseless protest - Thursday 7th April 2011

AS markets across Karachi remained shut on Tuesday in response to a strike call given to protest against rising incidents of extortion, the business community appeared to be divided over the issue. So serious was the divide that traders and industrialists traded blows at the Polo Ground; the police had to intervene to break up the brawl, which lasted for over an hour. Tuesday`s strike was principally supported by the All Karachi Tajir Ittehad, a grouping of small traders, while the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, mainly seen as representing industrialists, backed out after initially supporting the protest. Trouble erupted when traders arrived at the Polo Ground, where the KCCI had organised its own event, and heated exchanges led to fisticuffs. Traders accused the chamber of siding with the government and believing its promises which — they say — the state never keeps. KCCI leaders, on the other hand, said the traders were “toeing a political line”. Observers say that other than the extortion issue there has been a long-standing enmity between the chamber and small traders, as the latter feel they don`t have proper representation in the KCCI. These differences may have helped fuel the mêlée. In the midst of the chaos the `real` issue — extortion — seems to have been forgotten.
The business community has a genuine case in protesting against extortion. However, by allowing the issue to become politicised and by not controlling infighting the community has done no good to its cause. There is no doubt the government must take definite steps to control extortion and racketeering for the sake of the metropolis`s financial health. Mere promises are insufficient. But the business community must also realise that by allowing their cause to be hijacked by political elements and themselves to splinter into constantly warring groups their campaign has slim chances of success.

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/07/senseless-protest.html

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