Islamabad not so beautiful anymore


Daily life in the federal capital came to a standstill as thousands of determined protesters led by Dr Tahirul Qadri held the ground for four days, just meters away from the Red Zone. Braving winter chill and freezing rain, Qadri’s followers kept the key artery of the federal capital blocked until Thursday. A survey around Blue Area revealed that due to the sit-in, students could not attend schools, attendance was thin at offices, mobile phone networks remained suspended, banks and ATMs were found closed and covered with tents as part of security, and markets were closed during the first two days of the sit-in. “Security arrangements on the eve of Qadri’s long march had effectively turned the capital into a ghost town as the majority of citizens chose to remain indoors and very few people went outside,” Shagufta Parveen, a resident of G-6 sector told APP. She said that people usually come to Islamabad in winters to enjoy the weather, but wondered how thousands of people could constantly sit for four days under open sky in biting cold without any proper arrangements.
Khurram Bhatti, a resident of Margalla Town, also expressed the same feelings. He said that Qadri should have realised that women and children were falling sick due to cold. “I have not gone to office for the last five days and the same case is with my two sons whose school has been closed due to uncertain situation that emerged due to the long march,” he said, adding that there must be a code of conduct for holding rallies and protests. He said that frequent holidays at schools and colleges might prove harmful for students as their annual examinations were approaching.
A senior official at Islamabad district administration said that for the last one week they had been busy managing the security of the capital, and arranging accommodation and food for the police personnel tasked to watch over the protesters.
He said that millions of rupees had been spent on security for the long march and related arrangements, including medicines, food and logistics. The amount could be spent on other productive purposes, he added.