RAWALPINDI, June 22: Punjab Traders Association (PTA) has given a call for shutter-down strike across the province on Saturday against long hours of loadshedding but the garrison city’s traders are divided over the issue.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) patronised traders’ bodies of city and cantonment areas pledged to observe complete shutter down.
While Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) announced a symbolic support for the strike.
The RCCI president Javed Akhter Bhatti said, “We ensure moral support to the strike but we will not join it practically”. He said the traders should observe peaceful strike and ensure the safety of public and private property.
However, Traders of Raja Bazaar and Benazir Bhutto Road under the leadership of Malik Imran held a meeting with City Police Officer (CPO) Azhar Hameed Khokhar and assured that they would not be part of the strike.
Interestingly, People’s Traders Cell of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said their traders would join the strike as they were fed up of long hours of power loadshedding.
Punjab Traders Association President Tariq Waheed Butt said, “We have told the traders to close down their shutters to avoid any untoward situation during the strike as we did not want to create problems as the protesters may loot the shops during the protest in absence of police protection.”
PML-N MNA Malik Shakeel Awan said his party did not give any call of the strike.
However, he assured that his party would support and participate in every protest against loadshedding.
Sources told Dawn that City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) and local police had not made any plan to provide protection to those traders who did not want to close their shops.
They added the provincial government had instructed the local government to exercise tolerance in dealing with the protesters.
They also alleged that local police had failed to prepare any plan for the protection of Islamabad Electric Supply Company or Wapda installations which were most vulnerable to the power rioters.