Pakistan News

Opposition parties back traders against early market closure

Opposition parties back traders against early market closure

ISLAMABAD: While the police and local administration continued forcibly closing shops at 9pm, the mainstream opposition political parties on Thursday decried the government decision, terming it a discrimination against the traders.

Addressing a joint press conference, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA from NA-48 Islamabad Asad Umar, former MNA and central leader of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Mian Aslam and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) district Islamabad president Sibtul Hassan said the traders had a rightful stance against the market closure at 9pm.

The press conference was organised by Kashif Chaudhry, a leader of a faction of the traders’ community, who even threatened to block the dedicated route of the metro bus service against the forced closure of markets by 9pm.

Mian Aslam said the government should have uniform policies for the country.

“If they are unable to ensure that the markets are closed at 8pm all over the country, at least they should make it sure it in Rawalpindi,” he said. “But if it is done in Islamabad only, we will not accept this injustice with the business community.”

MNA Asad Umar said the ‘save electricity’ campaign should start from the official and personal residences of the prime minister and the chief minister Punjab.

On the other hand, the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) disowned the joint press conference.

“It is our tradition and we have a policy to remain apolitical over technical matters,” said Muzammil Sabri, the president of the ICCI. “We were approached by the political groups earlier too but we believe in fighting our case ourselves only.”

All the groups of business community, including the arch-rival of the ICCI, the Islamabad Chamber of Small Trader, observed a shutter-down strike on April 28 against the market closure timings.

After the strike, the prime minister appointed Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, the ruling party’s MNA from NA- 49 Islamabad, as the focal person to deal with the situation. Later, the PML-N lawmaker announced that the market closure timing would be increased by one hour to 9pm. But the traders demanded that shops should be allowed to do business up to 10pm.

“We have only one question: since there is one-hour loadshedding from 9pm, how can the traders consume electricity from 9pm to 10pm?” said Ajmal Baloch, a leader of the traders’ action committee.

Meanwhile, Dr Tariq Fazal told Dawn that a meeting had been scheduled between the business community and the prime minister on Monday. He expressed the hope that the matter would be resolved after the meeting.

He said the campaign had been introduced from Islamabad not only to conserve power but also help discipline the overall shopping behaviour of the consumers in the country.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2015

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