Anti-riots measures asked to protect markets

Karachi: Small traders have demanded of the government to take adequate anti-riots steps to protect markets and bazaars, especially during processions and rallies.

All Pakistan Association of Small Traders and Cottage Industries (APAOSTCI) Karachi chapter president Mehmood Hamid expressing grave concern on huge losses of traders during recent riots and mayhem in Rawalpindi said the same grim scenario was witnessed by the traders of Bolton Market Karachi, but the government and its law enforcing agencies learnt no lesson. He said ransacking and burning shops and markets when things go wrong during rallies and processions has became a routine in Pakistan and the government should take proper stern anti-riots measures to protect markets and shops.

He said wrong policies of the government are harming not only small traders but also the national economy. He said the recent strike of the goods transporters and marker closures from 8th to 10th Muharram cost traders Rs22bn and deprived the Federal Board of Revenue of more than Rs8bn tax collection. He said this non serious attitude to economy is a matter of grave concern and the government should revise its strategy to salvage the sluggish national economy.

He said they are holding a meeting with religious scholars of all schools of thought to convince them not to force undue closure of markets on the occasions of rallies and processions of religious importance. He said a proper code of conduct should be developed so that these processions and rallies are provided due protection on one hand and on the other traders should not be forced to keep their shops closed for many days. He said there is a dire need of promoting culture of tolerance and respect in our society.

Mehmood Hamid said small businesses are suffering a lot due to too many holidays and closed days. He said with the cost of doing business escalating the traders can ill-afford too many closed days. He said the government should consider this issue sympathetically and not to force the small traders and shopkeepers to pull down their shutters unnecessarily. He said all sections of society should play their due role in improving socio-economic conditions of Pakistan. He said special steps should be taken to protect and promote small businesses so to let the national economy grow by leaps and bounds.