ISLAMABAD: As a few hundred supporters of a religious group continued to keep Faizabad intersection blocked for traffic for the seventh consecutive day, students and patients in the twin cities had to walk to their destinations.
Some students sitting for their A’ Level exams could not even reach the examination halls in time owing to the sit-in.
Around 2,500 supporters of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasoolallah, led by the firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, have been camped at the Faizabad intersection since last week. They have been agitating on the issue of Khatm-e-Nabuwat.
The winter session of the Cambridge International Examinations for the ordinary and advanced levels have been underway at the Paradise Inn near Islamabad Expressway since October and are expected to last until late November. However, the centre has become inaccessible owing to the blockage.
Parents, who forked out hefty fees for each exam, have expressed concerns over the venue choice in wake of the protest and have asked the British Council why it opted for the centre over other secure centres located within the urban areas of the capital.
“A student is paying over Rs10,000 per paper to the British Council, yet this pathetic venue was selected,” said Hamid Khan, a concerned parent.
“The sit-in has also been going on for the past week but the council has not taken any initiative to change the venue nor have any guidelines been issued for the parents. Who will be responsible if the students are injured or lose their academic year?” the irate parent asked.
A majority of parents from the capital demanded that the British Council probe why the particular location was selected and to move the venue to an appropriate centre within the urban limits of the city in line with past practice.
Patients heading to tertiary care hospitals in the capital too have had trouble reaching their destinations and have had to wait in traffic for hours.
“I had to take my father to the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology, but we were stuck in traffic for hours,” said Mohammad Younus, thus he could not undergo the recommended tests which have now been rescheduled for next month.
Moreover, the number of patients heading to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Science (PIMS) has declined. Normally, 1,200 to 1,300 patients visit the emergency department of the hospital every day. But this number has fallen to around 900, an official said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2017.