Asif Bashir Chaudhry & Israr Ahmed

Islamabad/Rawalpindi - The government’s direction to close down business by 08:00pm is not being enforced uniformly, as traders in neighbouring Rawalpindi are refusing to close shops by the given deadline time.

Though the traders of Islamabad have rejected the government’s decision to close markets early, terming it illogical, even then the dichotomy on part of government in implementation of the policy is still questionable.

Announcing a protest plan against the government’s decision the traders of the federal capital in the first phase would bring out protest rallies and in the second phase they would go on complete shutter-down strike.

Talking to The Nation President Traders Union Blue Area, Ammad Bin Arif, said, “We are even ready to shut our shops at 7:00pm but energy crisis had hit the entire country and the government is only forcing traders of Islamabad to shut down their shops by 8:00pm.”

“Our businesses have already suffered a lot due to the metro bus project and political sit-ins and now the federal government is directing us to close their shops early,” he said.

 “If closing shops early is imperative, why the government is not directing traders of Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and other cities to follow it,” he added.

President Super Market Sarfraz Mughal while talking to The Nation said that most of the customers are government employees and if the government is serious about energy preservation then they should change office timings as well.

“Will the government be able to resolve issue of power shortage in the country by closing down shops in Islamabad?” he asked.

Ex-President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry and President Jinnah Super Market, Ejaz Abbasi, said the decision was completely unilateral and was unacceptable to the traders.

“This is an illogical decision, if we keep our shop closed in the line of the government directive, then our customers will start shopping in Rawalpindi - something we can’t afford,” said Ejaz Abbasi.

He said that following the directive, the district administration was forcing the traders to close their shops early by conducting raids.

Leaders of the trade unions said that traders of Islamabad have paid bills regularly and there were no line losses in the federal capital yet they are being forced to bear the brunt of the country’s energy shortfall.

Union leaders said that they are ready to cooperate with the government but in first step the government should stop the raids of magistrates of district administration in different markets specially Jinnah Super Market, Super Market and Blue Area.

Interestingly the administration is conducting raids on commercial areas of Islamabad but the restaurants located in residential houses are not under focus.

Meanwhile, the business community on Monday pledged to support the government’s decision of shutting down the private businesses at 08:00pm in a bid to save energy in the country.

President Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), Syed Asad Mashahadi, in a press statement said that the government’s decision for closing private businesses including shops, shopping malls and plazas at 08:00pm was in the best national interest and all the traders and the traders and businessmen of Rawalpindi should follow it in its letter and spirit.

He urged the business community of the province and the federal capital to strictly adhere to the decision of the government, which would go a long way in giving impetus to the industrial sector.

He said that the move towards conservation of energy would help avoid loadshedding in different parts of the country which in-turn would be beneficial to the common man who might face the wrath of upcoming scorching hot weather conditions.

Referring to the RCCI’s programme for holding Rawal Shopping Festival in Rawalpindi, he urged the authorities that during the upcoming 9-day gala from May 2, the business closure schedule be relaxed up to 11:00pm as the moot was being organised to mitigate the sufferings of the business community of the town who during the last over one year suffered a lot due to the ongoing construction of the metro bus service project.

He said the shopping gala was a step forward to help restore business activity in the town and give impetus to the partially halted trade activity.

He said that the gala was being organised on pattern of Dubai according to which the business houses of whole of the city and cantonment would offer considerable size of discounts to the buyers throughout the term of gala.