Tomorrow’s march paralyses Islamabad
* Fear of attacks, blockage of roads mars business activity in high-risk zones
* Vehicular movement remains restricted
ISLAMABAD: Fear of terror attacks and riots during Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran chief Dr Tahirul Qadri long march tomorrow (Monday) has paralysed the capital.
The government, the opposition and all other major political parties have been trying to convince Dr Qadri through all diplomatic channels not to carry on with the march, but in vain.
According to the current scenario, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has dissociated itself from ‘active participation’ in the long march.
Still there are growing fears that the march will bring with it mass destruction, which might destabilise peace in the country. Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain have had a meeting with Dr Tahirul Qadri to change his mind, but all efforts went down the drain.
The capital administration has deployed heavy contingents of police and other law enforcers, and used all preventive measures to meet any unpleasant incident before or during the protest. For check and balance, containers have already been placed on all major roads leading to the Red Zone. Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Zafar Bakhtawari said the long march was not in national interest and it would create a huge mess in the capital, besides shattering the business environment.
He was of the view that the call for the long march had already put the security of the city it risk, and forced the locals and foreigners in the capital to remain indoors.
He said the business community had already condemned the call, adding that they would never support it at any cost.
On the other hand, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Asrarul Haq Mian has criticised the march and said that it was not an appropriate time to stage such a demonstration, as the country was passing through a critical phase and the general election was near.
“If he (Qadri) wants to bring any kind of change in society, he should run for elections and prove his metal through the democratic process,” he said. Meanwhile, National Press Club President Farooq Faisal Khan said that Qadri was a foreigner and working on “someone else’s agenda”.
Moreover, fear of attacks, blasts and other untoward incidents during tomorrow’s march has preoccupied the residents, the business community and office-goers in the capital.
Shopkeepers and office workers in Blue Area, Melody Market and Aabpara Market have expressed anxiety over the chances of terrorist activities the long march might bring to the city, especially when millions of people accompanying Dr Tahirul Qadri are present.
They feared that it would be impossible for security officials to check and clear each and every person and vehicle.
Moreover, the security measures adopted by the city administration and the capital police are also troubling the residents and the business community.
Inshal Hassan, a shopkeeper in Blue Area, told INP that shops and offices in the area were the most vulnerable to any untoward incidents. “There is no business activity. Citizens are reluctant to come to Blue Area and adjacent areas for shopping owing to the prevailing uncertainty and blockage of roads,” he said.
The load of public transport and private vehicles on city roads also remained very thin, and a majority of families preferred staying indoors on the weekend.
Even the posh markets in sectors F6 and F7 gave a deserted look, while there was no long queue of vehicles at fillings stations, like those on Friday.
There have been reports that all the entry and exit points of the city will be partially sealed off from today (Sunday).
Bilal Nisar, an ambulance driver, told INP that the next two to three days were very crucial for emergency services, as movement of ambulances and other vehicles to take patients to hospitals in case of any emergency would be impossible due to blockage of roads.
Some attendants at PIMS and Polyclinic hospitals said that it would be very difficult for them to get medicine and move their patients in case of any emergency.
They said that hundreds of patients are rushed to hospitals in the capital from the rural areas every day, but it would be impossible on Monday, as the roads would be sealed off and packed with millions of protesters. They said the organiser of the long march would be responsible if there were any deaths.
It is pertinent to mention here that the long march will start at 9am today (Sunday) from Dr Tahirul Qadri’s residence in Lahore.
His convoy move towards Islamabad via GT Road, and is expected to reach the capital on Monday. agencies