–Majority protests closure of markets while others shut businesses to join Shehbaz-led welcome rally
LAHORE: With former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz landing at the Lahore airport on Friday, authorities deployed containers at the Faisal Chowk (Charing Cross) and other sensitive locations across the city in order to avoid any untoward incidents.
Shops and other commercial outlets, especially those located on the route of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif’s rally – held to welcome Nawaz and Maryam – were forced to shut down with the road being closed off for traffic.
“We have been forced to shut down our shops because authorities have closed off the main road,” said a shopkeeper. “Now we cannot even go back home,” he added while expressing frustration at political events impacting daily business activities.
“I do not understand why daily life across the entire city has to grind to a halt. The airport is miles away from the Mall Road, it does not make any sense,” said another shopkeeper.
“We cannot communicate with families back home as mobile networks have been disabled and containers deployed at the main intersection.”
“Our businesses are being impacted. The entire market has been closed off,” he added.
Among the closed markets and businesses were Naqi Market, Abid Market, Mozang Bazaar, Hall Road, Fane Road, Sunehri Mandi and others. Food business operators also suffered heavy losses as all eateries of the Naqi Market, Temple Road and Regal Chowk were shut down as well.
While a majority of traders were seen protesting the administration’s decision of closing the markets, some willingly shut their businesses to support PML-N’s call of “vote ko izzat do”.
“I do not care if I face any losses for a day. Mian Sahab [Nawaz Sharif] is coming and all of us need to be there to welcome him. We reject the verdict against him and we have to show our support. It is now that he needs us,” said another trader while shutting his food stall.
It merits mention here that the father-daughter duo on Friday evening was arrested by the National Accountancy Bureau (NAB) at the Lahore airport upon their return from London, where they had been attending ailing Kulsoom Nawaz.
On July 6, PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz had been sentenced to ten and seven years in prison, respectively, by an accountability court in the Avenfield Reference case. Besides imprisonment, Nawaz was fined for eight million pounds, while Maryam was served a fine of two million pounds.