A massive shutter-down strike is being observed across Pakistan today on the call of traders’ bodies against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led federal government for ‘unfair taxes and ineffective economic policies.’
All markets in Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Kasur, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Chistian, Gujrat, Jhang, Liaquatpur, Peshawar, Bannu, Swabi and many other urban cities are shutdown in protest the government with a demand to undo the taxes imposed under the federal budget 2019-20.
However, a rift emerged amongst traders in Karachi as one group supported the call of strike, whereas the other decided to keep their shutters open.
All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran (APAT) Chairman Ajmal Baloch held a press conference in Islamabad, and urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to bring in a ‘fixed tax system’ in the country.
“We are ready [for a fixed tax system]…This is a wrong impression that we [traders] are launching this strike on behalf of any political party,” he said, while claiming that the bureaucracy of the country has been [intentionally] failing the government and the premier.
Besides, he has challenged the chairman of the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR), Shabbar Zaidi, for a debate over the claim that some political party has pushed traders for the strike.
In Lahore, most traders’ associations and organisations were in agreement on Friday to observe a complete shutter-down strike across the city on Saturday (today) in protest against the taxes imposed by the federal government in budget 2019-20. According to the announcement, all markets and shops will remain close during the strike.
In Karachi, the traders associations and organisations have divided into two groups for observing the strike – the first group which has called to keep their shutters down is being led by the All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran and the Karachi Tajir Ittehad, and the second which constitutes a number of small groups under the umbrella of the Karachi Tajir Action Committee (KTAC), including the Electronic Market Association, Sindh Tajir Ittehad, Tajir Associations of the Old City area and Medicine Market Association have decided to oppose the call for strike.
The KTAC is of the view that the government has already accepted their 10 demands from the total 11, and so there is no justified reason to call for the strike.
It further claimed that most of the traders associations were in its support in Karachi, and stated that the strike was being motivated on a call of a political party, the name of which was not mentioned.
Furthermore, the media was told that the chairman of the FBR has assured traders associations and organizations of introducing a fixed tax system, and the time to audit small traders has been extended from one year to three years.
Last week, the APAT had announced a nationwide shutter-down strike from July 13 against the government in several cities of the country for a hike in sales tax in the federal budget.