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Islamabad’s traders refuse to close shop early

Islamabad’s traders refuse to close shop early

ISLAMABAD: Terming the government’s decision to close markets early ‘illogical’, the traders of the federal capital announced on Sunday that they would not comply.

Addressing a press conference here at the National Press Club, representatives of the traders union and Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) announced that markets and shops will remain open late into the night, as government’s decision, in its current form, is unacceptable.

Read: Shops to shut down by 8pm in Islamabad, Punjab: CCE

One of the traders said the government was trying to impose this unilateral decision on them.

In the first phase the traders would start a series of protests and in the second phase they would observe a shutterdown strike, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, leader of the traders union Abdul Rauf said that energy crisis had hit the entire country, but the government is only forcing traders of Islamabad to shut down their shops by 8pm.

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

“If closing shops early is imperative, why is the government not directing traders of Lahore and other cities,” he added.

He said most of our 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.

Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Muzzamil Sabri 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 Kamran Abbasi, Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders and Small Industries president.

Traders leader Ajmal Baloch and Kashif Chaudhry also criticised the government’s decision.

“I’m astonished at the wisdom of the government advisers who advised the prime minister to take this decision,” said Ajmal Baloch, President Anjuman-i-Tajaran.

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

“In some cases, customers were also asked by district administration to come out of the shops. We never saw anything like this even during martial law,” Mr Baloch added.

The speakers said the 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.

They requested the government to hold dialogue with them over this issue.

“We are ready to cooperate with the government, we don’t want confrontation. But want government to pay heed to our plight before implementation of this decision,” Rauf Chaudhry said.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2015

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