Lahore Still In Mourning
WITH banks and government offices observing a weekly holiday on Saturday, the provincial metropolis gave a deserted look as all the major markets also remained closed to mourn the tragic attack on Data Darbar.
The strike was observed across the board in retail and wholesale markets. The closure was witnessed at posh The Mall as well as at Ichhra, considered to be the shopping centre for lower strata. The high profile markets in Defence and Gulberg also observed the strike. Shah Alami, Akbari Mandi and Azam Cloth Market, the three major wholesale hubs of the City, remained closed. The Badami Bagh Auto Market and the retail auto markets at the Montgomery Road and Anarkali also participated in the strike.
The traders resented the lethargic attitude of the City administration and the provincial government that failed to ensure security of shrines, markets and other worship places. They severely criticised the security arrangements in the City.
“The government has fixed some permanent spots where sporadic checking is done by disinterested policemen,” said Humayun Mir, the president Pakistan Cloth Market. He said the terrorists avoided the check-posts and used alternative routes where there was no fear of checking. He said the prudent way was to conduct surprise checks through vigilant and dedicated mobile squads. He said terrorists should not have advance knowledge of the checking spots which would hamper their free movement.
Qaumi Tajir Ittehad Lahore Chairman Ansar Zahoor Butt said the government had posted SHOs in police stations on political grounds and they had no fear of accountability. He said they did not depute police force at sensitive spots. He said even though it had been made mandatory to post two policemen at every mosque at the time of Friday prayers but the rule was seldom observed. He said no policeman was posted at the Montgomery Road mosque for two consecutive Fridays despite several reminders to the SHO concerned. Similar attitude could be seen at other places that provided an opportunity to terrorists to strike, he said, adding that after every terror attack, there was some vigilance for a week or so and then the security measures were relaxed. “The terrorists strike when the police sleep on duty,” he maintained.
Chemical dealers Chamberlain Road President Sheikh Mushtaq said Data Darbar was the last place where one could expect a terror attack. The saint lying there was revered by people from all religions and sects, he said, adding that if this madness was not stopped forthwith, it could lead to a sectarian conflict. He said traders belonging to all sects and religions had forged an alliance to defeat the designs of terrorists. However, he added, they needed the government support in this regard.
Mushtaq said the ruling elite should reduce its security by restricting its movements and minimising the number of residences declared as high security residences and offices. Several thousand policemen, thus spared, should be posted to protect ordinary citizens and commercial markets. He said that at some places, markets were partially opened where recitation of the Holy Quran and prayers were held for the well-being of the country. He said traders from various markets also took out processions to condemn the attacks.