LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz rally coming to the city from Islamabad is expected to cause losses worth a gargantuan Rs24 billion to the business community due to the closure of shops and blockades of roads leading to the market.
The constituency of Nawaz is also a hub of trade with many wholesale and retail markets. The traders believed that the security arrangements made for the rally would restrict access to their markets and force shops to close along the route of the rally in Lahore. Many bazaars in the constituency, including Shah Alam market, Akbari Mandi, Urdu Bazaar, Bilal Ganj, Sua Bazaar, Brandreth Road, Rang Mahal, Taxali Gate, Hall Road and McLeod Road, among other trade centres of the city, will remain closed when the ousted prime minister reaches the city.
Talking to The Express Tribune, All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran President Khalid Pervaiz said that Lahore alone will lose an estimated Rs24 billion and the rally will also affect businesses in surrounding areas.
He said all trader unions were on the same page and had announced that no shop would close. “We have already announced that we will open our businesses and not close down for a political party. We are not aligned with any political party and are businesspeople.” He said that such rallies always cause losses, especially to small traders.
Pervaiz alleged traders were being pressurised by officials to close down their businesses. He said that if the government wanted traders to shut shop, it should also compensate them for their losses. “Businessmen cannot survive by shutting down their businesses, even for a day.” He added daily wage workers would be most affected by the rally. “It is the right of the people to work for a living and no political party or government should deprive a citizen of this right,” he added.
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Abdul Basit said no trader wanted to close their businesses for the sake of political activities. “We also oppose rallies and sit-ins on The Mall as it disrupts the livelihoods of the people. We are hoping that everything returns to normal soon so that we can carry on with our work.” He said that business required, first and foremost, political stability and security through the maintenance of law and order. Any situation that leads to rallies or sit-ins is always bad for business activities.”
The PML-N’s rally will mostly affect small businesses, especially those on the GT Road. There are thousands of small and medium businesses apart from the major markets on GT Road, including those near Imamia Colony, Shahdara, Begum Kot, Bhatti Chowk, Sabzi Mandi and Graveyard Market. Other smaller towns and cities which depend on Lahore’s markets on a daily basis include Narowal, Ferozwala, Muridke and Gujranwala among others.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2017.