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‘Year of the Monkey’ spreads panic

February 10, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: People thronging the F-8 Markaz panicked and ran helter-skelter as short bursts of loud sounds rattled the shopping area early Monday morning. All that sound and fury turned out to be celebratory, though.

It dawned on the startled people a few hours later that Chinese expatriates were welcoming the Year of the Monkey with fireworks.

Perhaps, the most disturbed were participants of a seminar on security affairs, convened in the court complex in the area, who took the sound of swooshing fireworks and bursting crackers for flying bullets and bursting bombs.

Lawyers having chambers there said the day began normally, and courts proceedings went on till 9:50am. “Suddenly the area echoed with the sound of shooting and blasts and judges, lawyers, and litigants started running in panic,” they said.

Police officers, who have offices in the complex compound, were rattled even more. They were alerted that senior Chinese diplomats were present in the area and to get busy in cordoning off the area.

By 11am, however, things began to clear. Calm returned slowly as the word spread that our Chinese friends were celebrating the Year of the Monkey in the adjacent F-8/3 sub-sector.

Media Coordinator and former vice president of Islamabad Bar Association advocate Chaudhry Khalid Hussain told Dawn that judges and lawyers arrived at Shoudha Hall soon afterwards for the seminar on security.

“An additional sessions judge noted during the seminar that the government is yet to honour the promise it made following the terrorist attack on the local courts complex in March 2014 to issue weapon licences to all the judges.”

Session Judge Sohail Akram described security as “a joint responsibility” of all and appreciated the efforts of Islamabad police in that respect. And the Session Judge (West) Kamran Basharat called for standing with the security forces “to foil the nefarious designs of our common enemy”.

Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Sajid Kiani told the seminar that “the Islamabad Police have ensured comprehensive security arrangements around the local courts, especially for the judges, lawyers and those visiting the courts.”

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2016