The protesting traders on Monday gave a three-day ultimatum to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to fulfil their demands; otherwise, they will go on a countrywide shutter-down and wheel-jam strike. The countrywide traders' convention, organised by Markazi Tanzeem-e-Tajiraan Pakistan [central traders' organisation of Pakistan], criticised the government's economic policies and the FBR's documentation measures.
The traders who had arrived from across the country demanded the government to review the condition of seeking the computerised national identity card (CNIC) numbers of unregistered buyers and sales tax registration. Instead, they favoured the policy of fixed tax scheme for the traders.
After the daylong convention here at a local hotel, the traders held a protest rally under the leadership of Kashif Chaudhry, President central traders' organisation of Pakistan and its chairman Khawaja Suleman Siqqiqui from Melody Market to NADRA Chowk.
The traders were intending to lead the protest demonstration towards the FBR House, but they were stopped at the NADRA Chowk by the law enforcement agencies where the FBR representatives held dialogue with the traders' leadership.
Addressing the protesters, the traders' representatives urged Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa to intervene in getting their demands fulfilled. They also alleged that the government, at the behest of International Monetary Fund (IMF), is undertaking measures which, they said, are 'unjustified'.
After the dialogue, Kashif Chaudhry told the protesting traders that the FBR has sought three days to consider their demands. "This should be taken as ultimatum, and if the FBR fails to fulfil our demands, we will be forced to give a call of the countrywide shutter-down and wheel-jam strike," Chaudhry said.
He alleged that the FBR is not taking the demands of the traders seriously. "We are not against the dialogue, but the time should not be wasted in the name of dialogue," he added. He further alleged that FBR has failed to convince the traders on the condition of seeking the CNIC numbers of unregistered buyers. He further said that the government continues to issuing notices at the markets instead of preventing the smuggling at the ports and borders.
Chaudhry maintained that industries in the country are being closed down and purchasing at markets has reduced up to 40 percent; rather these are presenting a deserted look due to the 'failed' economic policies and the FBR's documentation measures.
"We have decided to approach the traders across the country, as we believe that the ongoing economic policies have already led to unemployment and decline in business, while it is feared that the situation could lead to chaos," he added.
Addressing the protesting traders, Khalid Mehmood Qureshi, President Traders Association of Multan, urged the Army Chief to intervene, adding that at the behest of the IMF, the government is taking such measures which would result in further decline in the overall economy and businesses in the country.