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Litter leaves residents bitter

January 15, 2013


Supporters of Tahirul Qadri read newspapers in the early morning on their third day of protests in Islamabad, Jan 16, 2013. — Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD, Jan 15: According to agency reports, the Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran (TMQ) as of January 15, 2013 might not have crossed the 100,000 mark but the thousands of protesters have begun polluting the city in an unprecedented way, leaving residents bitter.

Adding to the bitterness is suspension of cellphone services, low turnout in offices and unavailability of public transport.

Polluting marchers

The complication according to an official arose when TMQ — after deciding to violate the code of conduct reached with the local administration — decided to shift to D-Chowk, from the Saudi Pak Tower location.

According to city officials, toilet arrangements were made on both sides of G-7 and F-7 – around Saudi Pak Tower area – but after the venue shifted to D-Chowk protesters started using greenbelts as toilets.

Imtiaz Ahmed, a resident, who visited D-Chowk, said: “It is the right of every person to record his/her protest but they should also keep the cleanliness of the city in mind because participants of the long march will leave within a few days, leaving all the mess for residents to clean.”

The resident added that TMQ should have given hygiene training to participants before the protest, as it claims to have educated members in the organisation.

“Cleanliness is part of faith, therefore workers of the party should have collected wrappers strewn around the venue,” Mr Ahmed suggested.

Aurangzeb Khan, resident of sector G-7, said that he was in favour of the long march because the government had failed to solve the issues of the people. But after the marchers arrived, he was disappointed, as they began violating environmental laws of the city.

“All over the world, city administrations impose fines on littering and citizens also show responsibility but here both administration and participants of the march did not bother to keep the city clean,” he said.

“Participants should use public toilets,” Mr Khan urged, adding, “municipal authorities should also provide facilities because if the sit-in continues for several days, residents of the federal capital will suffer.”

On the other hand, Dilshad Ahmed, a participant of the long march while talking to Dawn, said that he did not see anything odd in using the greenbelt as a public bathroom.

“Our forefathers had been using fields and it also increases fertility of the land,” Mr Ahmed said while offering a justification.

However, a protester Adnan Kiyani, who was standing in a long queue at a public toilet in F-6, said that the government should have provided basic facilities.

“Blue Area is a busy place but relevant departments did not bother to construct toilets. People have no choice but to use green belts. That is why we say that the government has failed,” he said.

Media coordinator of TMQ, Ghulam Ali Khan said: “It was the responsibility of CDA to clean the area but after the government withdrew security, CDA officials abandoned the area.”However, Mr Ali was hopeful that the CDA would do the cleanup after the marchers left.

Unavailability of services

Residents of the federal capital have been suffering for the last two days because of unavailability of public transport and continuous suspension of mobile phone services.

Mohammad Bilal, who was standing at a bus stop in I-9, said that he wanted to go to the hospital because his wife was admitted but even after waiting for an hour, there was no sign of public transport.

On the other hand, taxi drivers had jacked up their prices. “Luckily I hitched a ride with a commuter,” he said.

Attendance at public offices also remained low.

A resident of Islamabad, Saeed Ahmed, said: “On Tuesday, I went to a private hospital in sector H-8 for unstitching but they said that there was no surgeon available in the hospital. So I had to go to Pims but OPD was closed. I will go there again on Wednesday,” he said.