ISLAMABAD - As the million-man march led by Dr Tahirul Qadri draws closer, fear of attacks, blasts and other unwanted incidents has preoccupied the residents, business community and office-goers of the federal capital.
Shopkeepers and office workers of Blue Area, Melody Market and Aabpara Market expressed worries over chances of any terror activities the long march may provide to the anti-social elements as millions of persons are expected to accompany Dr Tahirul Qadri and it will be impossible for the security officials to check and clear each and every person and vehicle. Moreover, security measures taken by the city administration and capital police including blocking roads and streets by placing empty containers is also troubling the residents and business community whose business is being affected by the activity. Inshal Hassan, a shopkeeper in Blue Area, talking to INP, said that the shops and offices in the area were most vulnerable to any untoward incidents. “Our business is already near to nil as the citizens are reluctant to come to Blue Area and adjacent areas for shopping owing to the prevailing sense of fear and blockage of roads by the capital authorities to stop the participants of the long march,” he added.
Meanwhile, public transport and other vehicles were very thin on the capital’s roads due to the scare and majority of the families preferred to stay home despite being weekly holiday in federal government offices. Even the posh markets in F-6 and F-7 gave a deserted look while the long queues at the fuel stations witnessed on Friday were no more after it was announced that the petrol stations have enough supplies.
Some of the offices of essential services in the federal capital summoned their staff on Saturday for duty and they would remain lodged in the offices at least till Monday as entry and exit points are expected to be partially sealed from Sunday onward. Authorities tightened security in the federal capital and sealed off the high-security “red zone” ahead of the long march.
Bilal Nisar, an ambulance driver, talking to INP said that next two to three days were very critical as movement of ambulances and other vehicles to take patients to hospitals in case of emergency would be impossible due to blockage of roads.
Some of the attendants of patients admitted in PIMS and Polyclinic hospitals were more worried saying that it would be difficult for them to get medicines and take out their patients in emergency, if there were deaths.
Other people in the hospital told INP that the politicians were just playing with the sentiments of the people for the attainment of personal agenda and have no concern for the sufferings of the common man. They gave the example that hundreds of patients are rushed to Islamabad hospitals from rural areas in emergency, some of them suffering from heart problems and injuries from accidents. They said when the roads would be sealed and packed with millions, how the patients would reach the hospital. They said, only the organiser of the march would be responsible for these deaths and hoped that some lawyers would take up the issue at the Islamabad High Court or any other court to prevent long marches in cities or highways that cause deaths of patients.
It is pertinent to mention here that the long march will start at 9am on January 13 from Tahirul Qadri’s residence in Lahore. His caravan will travel to Islamabad via GT Road. Qadri will give a speech in Muridke, followed by others in Gujranwala, Wazirabad, Gujrat, Jhelum and several other cities.