KARACHI – A multi-parties conference on Thursday condemned the government’s failure to protect traders from extortionist, saying the people and businessmen have been left at the mercy of extortion mafia, killers and terrorists.

The conference, held at Jamaat-e-Islami’s Idara-e-Noor Haq, was attended by JI Karachi chief Muhammad Hussain Mehanti, Muhammad Aslam Ghori of the JUI-F, Dr Muhammad Siddique Rathor of the JUP, Syed Zia Abbas of the NPP, PML-N’s Saleem Zia, Israr Abbasi from the PTI, Abdul Hameed Mughal of the PDP, Mazhar Rahoja of the PAT, Alhaj Muhammad Alhaj Rafi of the NMP, Mehboob Azam and Mehmood Hamid of the Small Traders Organisation, Mir Nawaz Khan Marwat of the Motamar Alam-e-Islami and traders representatives.

In his address, JI Karachi chief Muhammad Hussain Mehanti said the situation in the city was quite alarming, as the people and traders were living in a state of utter despondency and they were absolutely disappointed at the government’s failure to provide protection to them. “They have been left at the mercy of extortionists, killers and terrorists,” he said, deploring that the government could not even arrest culprits of the May-12 mayhem. He said that over 50, 000 people had been killed in the city during the last 25 years.

Mehanti also said that the government should review its policy of reconciliation, initiated four years. “Twenty-five years ago, a party pioneered extortion and target killing in the city, and other political groups followed the suit,” the JI leader said without giving any name. “The government has failed to curb crimes, while criminals have been allowed to operate freely, without any fear,” he said and called on the government to dislodge itself from saboteurs, perpetrators, extortionists and target killers.

He said the situation had reached a point of no return, adding, “The people are reluctant to send their kids out for the fear of kidnappers and assassins.

He stressed upon trade bodies that they should not stand by those who had pioneered the culture of targeted killing, strikes and extortion. “The citizens must realise that they had to work for peace and tranquility in the city. They have to stand united on one-point agenda of peace.” Mehanti announced that his party along with traders would shortly stage a protest demonstration outside the Press Club against the rising extortion and government’s inaction.

Aslam Ghori of the JUI-F opined that a committee of leaders of all parties be formed to hold meetings with the IGP and Rangers DG regarding protection to traders.