GILGIT: Residents of Gilgit heaved a sigh of relief after the 25-day-long curfew was lifted. Despite being a holiday, markets were thronged with people on Sunday, indicating that life in Gilgit has returned to normal.
“We are now free to go anywhere we want at any time without restrictions. It feels good,” said Ziaul Haq, a local.
The curfew, which was imposed on April 3 after more than 20 people were killed in sectarian clashes in the region, brought life in the city to a standstill. Though it was later lifted during the daytime, the curfew remained in place from dusk till dawn — from 7pm to 6am.
Under control of the army, the situation in Gilgit gradually improved over the days, until the authorities announced on Saturday to completely lift the curfew. But despite the announcement, the restrictions were not entirely lifted till Sunday, as residents had been stopped from leaving their homes after 7pm the previous day.
A shopkeeper, Zakir Hussain, said the curfew had a “deep psychological impact” on the people, and the business community in particular. “Businesses cannot afford violence and curfews — for a business to flourish the environment needs to be devoid of fear and restrictions,” he added.
Hussain said that after receiving news of the lifting of the curfew, traders who had earlier left Gilgit for security reasons are now returning.
Gilgit-Baltistan Council Member Advocate Amjad Hussain claimed the curfew was lifted “on the demands and insistence of the traders”, who were suffering losses due to the curfew.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2012.
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