ISLAMABAD – Once the most charming and clean city in the country — Islamabad — has now become a hub of rallies and sits-in and losing its charm for those who love to visit the federal capital and its surrounding areas.

The long march and sit-in of Dr Tahir ul Qadri has made another blow to its charm as thousands of marchers from different parts of the country gathered here to fulfill their demands just few

metres away from red zone.

Rallies and Dharnas are the democratic right of citizens but what to say about the miseries and problems which are faced by the locals due to them as is in the case of current sit-in by Dr Qadri and his supporters.

A survey of surrounding areas of Blue Area in Federal Capital revealed that due to Qadri’s Dharna which enters in fourth day on Thursday, students could not attend their schools, thin attendance in offices, suspension of mobile phone networks, Banks and their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) were found closed and covered with tents as part of security, first two days of Dharna markets and offices found closed and host of other pain and stress borne by citizens.

“Security arrangements on 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 in G-6 Sector told APP.

She said in democratic culture we know it is common to hold rallies but we do not understand why Dr Tahir Qadri has put lives of thousands of innocent people especially of women and children in danger. Shagufta said people usually come to Islamabad in Winter to enjoy the weather but how it is possible for the people to sit constantly for four days under the sky in a biting cold without any proper safety gadgets.

A resident of Margalla Town, Khurram Bhatti also expressed the same feelings and said Qadri should realize the lot of women and children who are becoming ill due to cold as was reported that around 170 persons were hospitalized. “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 emerged due to long march,” he said, adding there must be a mechanism of holding rallies and protests.

He said frequent holidays in schools and colleges may prove harmful for students as their annual examinations are round the corner and appealed to politicians to avoid disrupting their routine for political point scoring. “Pakistan with government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and its coalition partners is on a democratic path but unnecessary sit-in and rallies cannot be in favour of democracy, so these should be avoided,” a political analyst, Bushra Shahid said.

The analyst said Qadri, just to gain political scoring launched long march but I think he has never think of the conditions and marchers who are the ultimate sufferers as he (Qadri) is sitting in a bullet proof luxury bunker.

She said no doubt there is a biting cold. There is a rain on Thursday which added more miseries, but what about the food and other material which is required for survival of marchers. Qadri Sahib have you ever thought about this?

Bushra said country’s all political parties have opposed Qadri for his harsh statements and criticized his stubborn attitude for putting lives of women and children in jeopardy.

A senior official in Islamabad district administration said for the last one week they were busy in managing security of Capital and arranging accommodation and food the police personnel who were called from other provinces as well.      

He said millions of rupees have been spent on security for long march and other arrangements including medical, food and logistics. The amount can be spent on other productive purposes.

He said all of us have feelings for participants of long march but what about the lot of policemen who are paying their duties to ensure a secure atmosphere for marchers.

The policemen are becoming ill and some of them were also hospitalised.