Blockade makes residents of twin cities anxious

Doctors say uncertainty around the protests, gruelling logjams taking toll on people


Sehrish Wasif November 18, 2017
Doctors say uncertainty around the protests, gruelling logjams taking toll on people. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The blockade of Faizabad, which has stretched for over 10 days, coupled with inaction by the officials has led to an increase in anxiety among residents of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Psychiatrists from public and private hospitals of the twin cities told The Express Tribune that owing to the closure of the key artery by the protesters and by the city administration who surrounded the protesters from Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TYLR) with containers, have led to the people losing trust in the government.

With the road’s closure resulting in hours-longjams on the main highway connecting Islamabad with Rawalpindi, they estimated that anxiety levels had shot up by as much as 30 to 40 per cent.

Dr Asma Kiyani, a psychiatrist at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) said that people, who were previously living a normal life, are now showing signs of anxiety and depression.

She added that the blockade is causing people to feel irritated, frustrated, annoyed and exhausted when stuck in traffic jams for hours.

“Due to the massive traffic jams, they are unable to reach their offices, schools, colleges on time and some even have to stay back owing to the roadblocks,” she said.

Those who do manage to reach their destinations on time are often burdened with pending work of their absent colleagues.

“Because of this, people are overburdened with work and become worried if they can finish their work on time and leave early to avoid the rush hour,” she said.

Dr Kiyani further said that the ignorance and helplessness of the government in addressing the crisis has also caused a sense of mistrust and insecurity amongst citizens.

“Since the protest started, people constantly worry whether clashes will break out between the police and the protesters which could further worsen the situation. They are concerned that if something that if a situation arises during the day, how would they manage to pick their children up from schools and return home safely,” Dr Kiyani added.

Meanwhile, a senior psychiatrist working at a private hospital in Rawalpindi, who did not wish to be named, said that the media is not covering the protest much which is allowing space for fake and often unverified updates to spread on social media. All this, the psychiatrist said, leads to stress and anxiety among the people.

He added that there were many who have been confined to their homes and cannot leave owing to the closure of roads.

Meanwhile, people living in areas close to Faizabad are have been disturbed owing to the suspension of internet and phone services, pushing them further into isolation, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2017.

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