RAWALPINDI, May 6: For bird lovers in the twin cities, Sardar Alam Khan Road in the downtown area offering variety of birds and their food is no less than an earthly paradise.

The old market having more than 25 shops provides them with an opportunity to pick their favourite birds. Some shops even offer fish, cats, rabbits and dogs of all breeds. For fish lovers, there are some shops dealing in aquariums – from fish bowls to home aquariums, all things are available there.

However, the birds dominate this market. The trend of bird keeping is increasing in Rawalpindi and Islamabad and most of the people keep Australian parrots, doves and lovebirds in their houses.

The market has also become a visiting spot for the children as birds of different colours and their chirping attracts them. Once a family enters the market, it won’t leave without buying a bird or a fish. Peacocks, parrots, sparrows, doves, partridges and quails are all available here.

“We have been doing business here for the last 20 years. Earlier, two or three shops were at the road but with the passage of time more shops have opened,” said Mohammad Naveed, a bird seller. He said the dogs were not available in the market but you could be provided with one on request. “The falcons, ostrich and other birds are available subject to placing request in advance,” he said and added that mostly birds are brought there from Karachi but some birds also arrive from Lahore, Sukkur, Peshawar and Quetta. He requested the government should encourage the business as it fulfilled the requirements of the city residents.Mohammad Haroon, another shopkeeper who deals in fish said the aquariums were made locally. However, he held power outages responsible for the low business of home-based aquariums as their lights and oxygen-providing mechanism would not work without electricity.

Umer Rasheed, a customer visiting the market said: “The bird market was a blessing for us as I have kept Macaws, falcons and lovebirds as pets and this market provided food for all my birds.”

He further said there was a dire need to establish a proper market for the birds like in foreign countries.

Mohammad Saad, a resident of Islamabad, said he had come to the market to buy a cage for his birds. He said bird keeping was his hobby. On the other hand, the residents of College Road and Sardar Alam Khan Road were of the view that the shopkeepers should keep their shops and surrounding areas clean as the animal waste polluted the environment.— A Reporter

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