Karachi, 28 Feb. (AKI) – By Syed Saleem Shahzad – Pakistani demonstrators clashed with the security forces on Monday in the southern port city of Karachi when security personnel tried to block their protests against a fuel shortage due to a strike by the gas-station operators.
A large number of mostly motorcycle owners took to the streets in middle class neighbourhoods as fuel retailers went on strike over fear of a decrease in profits because of possible increases in the petrol prices.
Earlier, the Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association suspended sales of petroleum products and announced a strike in Karachi.
Police and the para-military troops were immediately mobilised to clear the main roads and carried out baton charge on protesters. However, the demonstrations remained unabated and people continued to pelt security personnel with stones.
The crisis is expected to deepen if petroleum dealers make good on a threat to spread the strike to other parts of Pakistan.
The fuel shortage interrupted Karachi’s daily life at a time when thousands of factory workers took to the streets of the Industrial city of Faisalabad.
Oil has hit 110 dollars a barrel – its highest level for two and a half years as unrest spreading through the Middle East continues to cause market jitters over possible disruption to fuel supplies.