Silence in the streets


LAHORE – All major markets of the city were closed on Wednesday in condolence of the slain Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer.
Provincial government’s offices, educational institutions, business centres and markets at The Mall, Hall Road, Gulberg, Abid Market and Liberty Market remained closed. The small markets at Model Town Link Road, Township, Garden Town, Iqbal Town and Shalimar areas remained opened. Customer count remained low at the markets, which were open. “There was hardly any customer the entire day,” said a shopkeeper at the Township market.
Majority of the people preferred to stay indoors and the traffic at the roads remained low. The traffic police officials were also not present on major traffic signals and crossings. The schools, colleges and universities also remained closed while banks remained open, though the bank customer count was low. Some of the offices operated by the federal government remained open.
The traders showed a mixed reaction over the issue, as some termed it a brutal act. However, all agreed that this was not the way to settle the issue and no civilised society could survive under such circumstances. “It was an act of brutality and we should condemn it,” said a shop owner Sheeraz Ali at Model Town Link Road. He said difference of opinion always existed in societies and should be settled through dialogues. “You cannot take out a gun to kill someone only for differing with your opinion,” he added. Another shopkeeper, Faheem Ahmed said tolerance is the hallmark of Islam and intolerance lead astray. “We should listen to everyone’s point of view,” Ahmed added.
Some businessmen said one should be careful on commenting such sensitive issues. “Religion is a very sensitive matter and one should not be so bold in his actions,” said a businessman, Sharafat Hussain, adding we should respect people’s religious sentiments.
Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) termed Salmaan’s death as the nation’s loss, while Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) remained silent and did not issue any condolence message.
FPCCI Regional Chairman Mian Tariq Shafi and Vice President Aamer Ata Bajwa in a joint statement said the ‘cruel act’ had not only disturbed politics but all other segments. They said any sort of extremism in the society was a huge barrier in the way of progress, which must be removed through education. Both office bearers said law and order position must be ensured which could attract foreign investment. “If the life of the high profiles is not secure then how can a layman feel safe? So, to overcome such kind of social taboos, a comprehensive and strong strategy must be formulated to bring the country on the way of prosperity,” they said.
The LCCI has not issued any condolence message despite the fact that Salmaan was an active businessman. LCCI has always remained under the influence of Punjab government and always backed the Punjab government. LCCI was closed on Wednesday and might issue a statement on Thursday, said LCCI official.