ISLAMABAD - Lal Gulab who sells powdered tobacco, commonly known as naswar, is perhaps the only happy individual who got freedom due to Azadi March of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) by quitting his job in Aabpara, as he is able now to earn more money by starting his own business in the PTI sit-in venue swamped by maximum people that consume the product.
Just two days back, Lal Gulab, 25, was working as a salesman in a wholesale shop in Aabpara on daily wage basis earning Rs 150 daily. He complains that his master treated him unfairly and sometime refused to give him the required money.
Things changed dramatically for the salesman who belongs to Kohat when he turned up at the PTI’s rally that was dominated by people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“I saw here that majority of people is Pashtuns and they badly need naswar. I immediately rushed to my shop and bought enough quantity. Within a few minutes I sold the product. I rushed back again to the shop, bought more stuff and earned more money,” the happy vendor said.
“Then an idea came to my mind. How if I buy the product from another shop and start my own business here? The idea was good and I parted ways with my employer. Now I sleep on sidewalk and I am not scared because everybody sleeps here,” Gulab, who was abandoned by his father in Kohat, said.
The vendor prays for a long sit-in of protesters as it would earn him big money as the products he sells has a great demand among the participants. The Kashmir Highway where PTI has gathered its supporters for sit-in against the government has virtually become another Sunday Bazaar in Islamabad where vendors have dumped their items on roadsides.
While markets in the rest of Islamabad pose a deserted look due to absence of shoppers, business activities continue to mushroom only in the venue of PTI’s long march where enough customers are available round the clock for buying different commodities.
But the only booming business in the rally is naswar. “I can survive without food but not without naswar,” Shahidullah, a PTI supporter who has accompanied the party’s caravan from Karak, said.
As majority of the protesters sleeps on the road pavements at night, vendors have brought pillows, beds and mosquito nets due to increasing demand for these items.
The lawns of Sports Complex Islamabad have been turned into sleeping places as most of the participants of Azadi March prefer to barge into the sports facility and spread their beds at night for rest.
Since the organisers of rally have not managed any arrangements for the night stay of activists, women and men could be seen sleeping on adjacent road pavements. “I have been sleeping on sidewalks for the last three days. I am too poor to afford a rented room in expensive city of Islamabad,” Waheed Mughal, who has come from Attock, told The Nation.