ISLAMABAD: One of many traders whose stalls were gutted in a fire at the H-9 Weekly Bazaar last week, Abdul Rehman was not sure how long it would take for him to resume selling edibles at the market.
However, the arrival of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) Azadi March has brought Mr Rehman some hope of earning.
The middle-aged Murree native told Dawn he has been selling fruit chaat, dahi baray and other items from a cart in H-9.
“As there are a large number of people there, I have been earning well and I am hoping that my loss because of the fire at the weekly bazaar will be recovered soon,” he said.
Mr Rehman is one of many people who have seen an opportunity of business at the march.
Sajid Hussain, a 32-year-old vendor who sells fruit, has also been working in the area.
“I work in Blue Area five days a week because a lot of people eat fruit for lunch. Since most offices are closed on Saturday and Sunday, I stay home on the weekend. But I have decided to sell fruit to participants of the march for two days, and I will return to Blue Area on Monday,” he said.
Mr Hussain is originally from Khanewal and has been living in Islamabad for nearly 20 years.
He said it has become difficult for him to make ends meet because of the price hike, but this event has given him the opportunity to earn a little more.
Enterprising student Younis Khan, who is in his third year at the University of Malakand, said he decided to come to Islamabad to make some money during his holidays.
“I have been selling selfie sticks and other mobile phone accessories. Many people buy selfie sticks and energy banks because mobile phones have become a basic requirement in daily life,” he explained.
Mohmand Agency resident Dost Mohammad, 40, usually sells corn on the cob in G-8. He said he decided to come to H-9 because “people prefer to eat corn on the cob rather than unhygienic edibles”.
Shahid Kamran, a resident of Rawalpindi who displayed a card stating he was responsible for security on behalf of the JUI-F, told Dawn he too has set up a stall selling chicken korma, channay, halwa and tea.
“I am selling hygienic food to the participants and earning for my family,” he said.
While some in the capital have seen opportunity in the march, the owners of nurseries are suffering because customers have stopped visiting them in the wake of road closures and the massive gathering in the area.
Association of Plant Nurseries Vice President Mian Mehmood told Dawn the closure of the road by law enforcement authorities has affected nurseries’ business.
“We suffer for a year and a half because of the metro bus service and now we are suffering again because of the Azadi March. The road leading to the nurseries have been closed with containers. We have decided to hold a meeting on Sunday and if the issue is not addressed in a few days, we will hold a protest,” he said.
Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2019