ISLAMABAD: In his small printing shop in Islamabad, Ameer Rashid chatters away happily as he winds up orders for banners, stickers, hoardings and flags from various political parties.
“Of course I’m happy. This is definitely the time to make profits,” says Rashid as he gets candid about his business. “We never earn so much money on routine days.”
In another two-story printing shop at Rawalpindi’s Circular Road, Kashif receives orders and issues instructions to his workers in a similar jovial manner. The printer, who has been in the business for the last 15 years, seems much satisfied with the election business as well.
Come general elections, and the business of printing of banners, stickers, panaflexes, hoardings and flags gets an enormous boost. But while lady luck appears to be smiling over Rashid and Kashif, the same cannot be said of others in the printing business.
This time around, political parties seem to prefer only a certain type of printing. Many printers, who do not use computer-made designs and stick to using paint on cloth banners, have been pushed to the wall.
In a dark alley on Rawalpindi’s Masjid Road, Muhammad Shahid looks sombre. “Not a single political worker has come to me yet,” he laments. His shabby shop sports some worn-out paintings and reeks of cigarette fumes. There is no computer in sight.
Muhammad Shaban, on the other hand, talks about how work is piling up. “We have to be really quick in catering to political parties,” he remarks.
The printers follow guidelines laid down by the Election Commission of Pakistan regarding the size of banners and stickers.
“We cannot print according to the wishes of candidates and their agents. The ECP has specific guidelines regarding the size of banners. Those who place the orders are often not aware of them,” says Rashid Iqbal as he hastily packs stickers ordered by a certain party into boxes.
One problem which plagues all printers equally is load-shedding.
“An order which could easily be done in eight hours takes us more than 12… these unrelenting power outages are taking a toll on everyone, from the business owners to customers,” complains Tariq Pervaiz in his office at Islamabad’s Blue Area.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2013.
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