ISLAMABAD - Stuck in long traffic snarl under the scorching heat and sweat rolling down his neck, 24-year-old Irfan Khan was desperate to enter Islamabad for appearing in an interview, however, to his surprise, all roads leading to the capital were sealed Monday in an effort to keep supporters of an anti-government cleric at bay.
“Is there any other way to enter F-7 sector of Islamabad. How long will it take to clear the traffic,” the young man who was stranded in the traffic jam at Tarnol Intersection was witnessed asking motorists and commuters as the time was running out for his interview.
He had come a long way from Kohat for showing up at his career’s first interview in Islamabad about which he was quite optimistic to be selected. “A multi-national oil exploration company has shortlisted me for a vacancy. But I fear the unusual traffic jam will ruin this chance,” Irfan, who is civil engineer, told The Nation desperately.
But he was not alone to bear the brunt of the irritating traffic snarl that stretched from Tarnol Chowk to Sangjani traffic plaza, as there were hundreds of passengers who were unable to find way to enter the federal capital on the first working day of the week.
Motorists and passengers that were traveling to twin cities of Rawalpindi-Islamabad Monday did not know that they would be denied entry to their destinations in wake of the government’s stringent security measures to stop supporters of Tahirul Qadri from stepping into the federal capital.
The placement of containers at entry points disconnected the federal capital from rest of the country bringing routine life to a virtual halt and leaving passengers stranded for several hours until the plane carrying the religious cleric was diverted to Lahore.
Clashes between supporters of the Sheikhul Islam and police landed dozens of cops in city hospitals creating panic among residents about ‘bloody revolution’, a word frequently trumpeted by the religious cleric.
“Is something really bad happening? What is his (Qadri’s) objective? Why he is given so much media coverage?” people who were stranded at entry points started discussions with each other.
Qadri’s arrival in Islamabad also disrupted the inter-city transport in the twin cities causing thin attendance at offices due to absence of transport facility and road blockages while people were observed marching towards their destinations on foot.
Commercial markets presented a deserted look as shopkeepers had pulled their shutters down in order to avoid rampage by supporters of Qadri who have set violent precedents of clashes with police.
With most of roads closed, residents in Rawalpindi Islamabad on Monday also suffered shortage of drinking water as water tankers could not reach houses that had asked for bowser service.