Sixty three-year-old Zarshed is among the numerous Pakhtun citizens who were forced to close down their hotels and teashops because of the rampant targeted killings in Karachi.
Zarshed sells naswar in Jackson Market, Keamari now and earns barely Rs 200 a day after he closed down his teashop in Qasba two weeks ago.
He and three of his nephews had been serving malai paratha and Peshawari green tea to the underprivileged class, especially the labourers, for the past 23 years.
“My business had been going strong and I was able to feed not only my family, but also the six workers who served the customers at the teashop. However, the situation turned very serious in the past couple of months when dozens of hotels were burnt,” Zarshed said.
“People have been sprayed with bullets in most hotels in the recent spate of targeted killings. These incidents deterred the customers for coming to our teashop. We closed down our business because extremists burnt more than 65 hotels,” he added.
He said he opted for selling naswar because it was a safer business than running a hotel.
The city has an abundance of Pakhtun-run teashops that are not only established in Pakhtun-populated areas, but also in Defence and Clifton. These hotels are mostly owned by Pakhtuns hailing from Quetta who are famous for their tasty tea and Peshawari qahwa.Some of them also offer beef karahi, tikkas, mutton karahi and katakut, and their shops are visited by a large number of people. However, the city of lights is going to be deprived of these delicacies soon, as most hotel owners are closing down their businesses.
Some 27 people have been killed and more than 60 injured at these hotels and teashops, according figures provided by the city police.
Muhammad Wali, who hails from Pashin (Quetta) and runs a small hotel in Sohrab Goth, lost his 18-year-old cousin Muhammad Daad in riots. Wali said when the city’s situation is normal, everyone visits teashops to have a good time, but as soon as riots break out, they set fire to these little hotels first.
“More than 70 hotel owners in Qasba, Baldia, Nazimabad, Sohrab Goth, Korangi and Liaquatabad have closed down their businesses because of the deteriorating law and order situation in the city,” he said.
“My own business has also been affected because people do not dare to come out of their homes at night. Only drug addicts, beggars and miscreants roam the streets at that time,” he added.
Awami National Party (ANP) Sindh General Secretary and Pakhtun Action Committee Grand Jirga leader Ameen Khattak said it was a matter of embarrassment for us that instead of setting up new businesses, we are losing those that are already running.
“Targeted killings and the worsening law and order situation is increasing unemployment and poverty in the city,” Khattak said.
Talking about the damages the businesses have had to suffer when the citizens’ properties and shops were burnt in the riots, he said, “ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan and Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik have signed a code of conduct, through which proper compensation will be given to those who have lost their properties in the riots.”