ISLAMABAD: Residents of Islamabad witnessing Thursday’s protests were gripped by the ‘what if’ factor. What if the protesters get out of control and enter the residential sectors of Islamabad?

It might have been ‘media hype’ or an over all sense of insecurity prevailing in the country but fear of some residents descended into a state of paranoia. One young resident who is an A’ Level student in Froebel’s, after witnessing the protests on television, sent messages via Facebook and Twitter to all his friends to ‘be safe and stay in their homes.’

But for some residents the experience was more direct: “For me this smoke from shelling is a pain as we are living hardly 500 metres away from the five-star (Serena) hotel,” said Zareena Bibi, a resident of Embassy road sector G-6.

The protests also brought back some bad memories for some residents; the worst being the 1979 US Embassy fire, when the embassy was burnt by protesters who made their way into the embassy.

Naeem Ahmed, an older resident recalls: “All I remember is that a few protesters were running in my street as police were chasing them in a cold November day, in 1979,” said Naeem Ahmed a resident of sector F-6, living close to Presidency and the red-zone.

Commenting on the media hype: “On Thursday the protests were aired through private televisions, live beaming, since the showdown was about teargas shelling and police battling with the protesters, otherwise it was all calm on the outside,” observed Ahmed.

Another resident a civil servant living in the red zone close to Kohsar Market maintained: “I think security is not that grim that we the residents of this sector – F-6/3 should be concerned at all, since a lot of security establishment will be guarding the key point which is none other then the US embassy.”

He insisted: “All I am concerned that people living in sector G-6 and others close to these missions will be having a tough time in case protesters go all mad and security situation goes out of control.”

Saima Mushtaq, a resident of sector F-5, living at government hostel added: “The roads will be closed and the best way is to stay inside till Saturday morning since I can’t risk my life and my car for the Friday’s protest.”—Staff Reporter

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