KARACHI - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) shut down the economic hub of the country on Friday as its activists blocked major roads of Karachi, including Sharah-e-Faisal, Super Highway and National Highway, setting Imran Khan’s Plan-C in motion.

PTI workers started predawn struggle to make Plan-C successful and staged protest at 25 localities of Karachi, including Teen Talwar, Numaish, Hassan Square, Native Jetty, National Highway and Sher Shah, against the alleged rigging in the general elections 2013.

The roads, leading to the protest sites, remained closed and the citizens had to use alternative routes to reach their destinations. The citizens faced severe problems in reaching the educational centres and offices. The Sindh government had announced that all educational centres would remain open despite the protest across the city. The students who were to appear in their examinations on Friday also faced problems in reaching their respective schools, colleges and universities.

Various schools of the city, witnessed thin attendance, announced the day off while transporters did not brought their vehicles on roads.

The business activities in the commercial hub were partially suspended as major markets remained open while shopkeepers hardly managed to reach their workplaces.

PTI activists started gathering at various key points of the city early morning, they burnt tyres on various roads and placed stones to block the roads while other key roads of the city were blocked by placing barricades and big vehicles.

In various parts of the city, PTI activists late on Thursday started asking petrol pump owners to shut down their business, especially at MA Jinnah Road and other localities.

The authorities concerned avoided confrontation with the PTI workers while at one place police dispersed about 12 activists of PTI who were trying to block the city’s main artery, Shahrah-e-Faisal. The number of protesters was small at various localities, but security agencies did not bother to clear the roads though a massive traffic jam was witnessed.

Eyewitnesses said protesters moved to another place after registering their protest at one place. They shifted protest from North Karachi to Five Star Chowrangi and the same protesters later moved to Shahrah-e-Faisal. Most of sit-in sites were cleared at the time of Friday prayers and workers moved to Nursery and Shahrah-e-Faisal to welcome Imran Khan. Charged crowd, chanted slogans against PML-N leaders and in favour of Imran Khan. They also misbehaved with the media persons associated with various news channels.

Sit-ins were staged at Hasan Square, Nursery, Numaish Roundabout, Star Gate, Steel Town, National Highway, Sohrab Goth, Native Jetty, Sher Shah, Kala Pul, Mauripur, Five Star Intersection, Habib Bank Roundabout, Bilal Roundabout, Sultanabad, Hub River Road, Dalmiya, Rashid Minhas Road, MPR Colony, Dawood Roundabout and others. Over 16,000 security personnel were deployed in the metropolis and 500 policemen deputed to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said the nation wanted ‘Naya’ Pakistan where there would be no violation of merit and leaders would come to power through people’s votes.

Khan, accompanied by PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, expressed these views while addressing workers and supporters at Nursery Intersection on Friday. Imran reached Karachi to address the participants of the protest demonstrations which were held in a bid to shut down the economic hub of the country as per his Plan-C. However, as Imran returned to the airport, his supporters expressed anger over his short address.

In his speech, the PTI chairman thanked the Karachiites again and again over an ‘overwhelming’ response and sacrificing a day for the cause of ‘Naya’ Pakistan. Khan said he was fighting a war for a true democracy. “The people will now further pressurise Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after closure of Karachi. I can foresee a true democracy and a ‘Naya’ Pakistan,” he said. “This is my promise that the manipulators of the elections 2013 results will be punished,” he added. “Children are dying from hunger in the country and the government is taking no measures to solve the problem of poverty,” he said.

“I am going to Lahore on December 15 and the Lahorites are ready to welcome PTI as they the Karachiites did,” the PTI chairman said. He led the slogan, “Go Nawaz Go”. He reiterated ‘Naya’ Pakistan would end the status quo.

PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, addressing the jubilant protesters, alleged the government had suspended electricity supply across Punjab so that people could not watch coverage of PTI’s sit-ins in Karachi.

Speaking to media persons, at the Karachi airport, the PTI chairman thanked the citizens of Karachi, including transporters, traders and labourers, for supporting his call. He claimed his party had not forced any one in Karachi to shut down their shops or business points. He said PTI wants a corruption-free government in the country so that election process could be made transparent. He said the people were ready to take on the rulers if they repeated the episode of Faisalabad. The PTI chairman further said all the political parties were of the view that the 2013 general elections were rigged. “We have been staging peaceful protest for four months and no one has the right to attack our peaceful rallies,” he asserted. He announced his party would hold a press conference on Saturday (today) to expose Rana Sanaullah-backed criminals who attacked the PTI rally.