ISLAMABAD (USMAN CHEEMA & ASMA GHANI) - Some called them “religious captives,” others thought harsh weather conditions of Islamabad would eventually force them to leave the sit-in venue in the heart of Islamabad, but to the surprise of all, majority of marchers didn’t leave the venue even on fourth day despite all the odds.

Even those who landed in Islamabad hospitals due to ailments related to cold, put up a brave face and vowed to return to the sit-in venue along with the children accompanying them.

One of the government officials who was surprised to see commitment of hard core marchers of the Tahreek Minhajul Quran as they visited hospitals after getting hit by the freezing cold weather of Islamabad.

The administration, it was learnt, has advised the respective hospital managements to keep record of the visitors, especially their whereabouts and their future plans.

Hospitals in response whereas had reported that the marchers even after getting hit by weather were not ready to go back. Such people consisted of those who were attached with Qadri’s institute Minhaj-ul-Quran.

A doctor of a local hospital quoted a women Shahida whose 8-month-old child got ill during the sit-in. Doctor told that the woman was asked to avoid exposing his child in the cold but in response she said, “It does not matter weather my child lives or dies but I am not going back until and unless dispersal is announced by Tahir-ul-Qadri.”

Another patient Zubair suffering form fever when asked about his future strategy, he said, “Those who had less courage have already left and now there is no one here who will leave without the permission of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri”. He said that he got ill but after getting treatment he will go back directly to the sit-in and will wait for the Qadri’s call.

It would be worth mentioning here that presence of ladies and children in the sit-in on the 4th day appeared to be a serious issue for the government that it could not handle with an action against them. Such a move could turn the situation totally against the government so it opted for the negotiations with the Qadri.

Meanwhile, Thursday rain made the weather more chilly and shot up the number of patients who rushed to public sector hospitals for treatment.

The participants of the long march marchers were also provided basic medical care in medical camps set up by the local administration and Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran (TMQ) at the site, besides public hospitals.

According to spokesperson of Polyclinic Hospital Dr Sharif Astori, about 105 patients from march visited the hospital raising the total number of patients to over 200 since Monday when the long march was started. Out of over a hundred patients who visited the hospital 43 were police officials.

He said people should wear dry and warm clothes as wearing wet clothes make them more vulnerable to the cold. And a brisk walk can also be a good technique to avoid cold.  

Casualty Medical Officer (CMO) at Emergency in Polyclinic Hospital Dr. Razia who was dealing with the patients said the patients have been coming with different complaints like fever, flu, cough, asthma, soar throat and around 10 to 12 patients with shivering.

Regarding the preventative measures that the marchers should take she said ‘obviously, they should be at their homes but that is what we cannot suggest them still they should cover themselves to keep their bodies warm and take hot drinks like soup and tea that soothes the throat and keeps you hydrated’.

Meanwhile, the local administration also set up two separate medical camps to provide medical treatment to male and female patients at the site. The administration also sent sanitation teams to clean up the area.

The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) also received 20 patients of march with complaints of different seasonal diseases who were discharged after giving medical treatment. According to officials Polyclinic hospital is more near to the march venue so majority of the patients prefer to go the Polyclinic.