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180 shops in Madina Market to open today despite traders’ strike

180 shops in Madina Market to open today despite traders’ strike

RAWALPINDI: Over 180 shops in Madina Market will open on Saturday (today) after 18 months despite calls of shutterdown strike by one group of the traders association against imposition of withholding tax on bank transactions.

Madina Market and Taleemul Quran mosque and seminary in Raja Bazaar were burnt in November 2013 after sectarian violence erupted on Muharram 10. As many as 10 people were killed and the mosque building and market burnt.

Following the incident, the Punjab government released Rs340 million for reconstruction of the mosque, seminary and more than 180 shops. The complex has been reconstructed and the shops handed over to the traders as per old allotments.

However, work on the mosque would likely be completed after Muharram. Though, Friday congregation has started in the mosque, water supply and electricity connections are yet to be fixed.

“Traders of Madina Market and other markets in the garrison city will observe the strike on August 5 on the call of All Pakistan Traders Association. However, the traders belonging to ruling PML-N will observe the strike on Saturday, just to sabotage the traders’ unity,” All Pakistan Traders Action Committee leader Sharjeel Mir told Dawn.

“PML-N supported traders’ group has already accepted reduction in the withholding tax from 0.6 per cent to 0.3 per cent on bank transactions during their meeting with Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar last week and now, they are going on strike just to create differences among the traders,” Sharjeel Mir claimed.

He said the traders wanted the finance minister to resign.

“The PML-N leaders have forgotten that the traders were the ruling party’s supporters and had brought them to power in the general elections. But the PML-N is going against them,” he added.

He admitted that the traders were divided into two groups and called for unity. He asked them to observe strike on August 5 if they wanted the notification on 0.6 withholding tax withdrawn.

On the other hand, PML-N Traders Cell President and District Anjuman Tajaran President Shahid Ghafoor Paracha told Dawn that the traders would observe strike on August 1 at any cost.

“The self claimed traders’ association has nothing to do with traders and complete shutterdown strike on Saturday will make it clear. Those opposing the strike on August 1 are the black sheep among traders,” he said.

Mr Paracha said all markets in the city and cantonment areas would close on Saturday and remain open on August 5. He said all political parties would have to support the traders’ demand and force the government to withdraw the tax on bank transactions.

“The government should withdraw the tax instead of postponing the decision for two months. We have already given time to the government to take back the decision but it failed to do so and we are left with no option but to go on strike,” he said.

He said the next plan would be announced after seeing the reaction of the government. However, he admitted that unity would change the situation completely.

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2015

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