Independence Day celebrations seem to be have lost their sheen this year as the country grapples with a political deadlock.
Several vendors selling flags, buntings and badges claimed the crisis had halved their revenues. Hundreds of stalls had been set up at Wahdat Road, Ferozepur Road and Model Town Link Road. Several vendors said sales traditionally peaked on August 12 and 13.
Muhammad Ali, a trader, said not many people had frequented the Anarkali Paper Market this time. He said the market had been crowded with customers last year. Muhammad Ali said wholesale traders however had not incurred losses as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party had more than made up for the lost retail demand by ordering hundreds of thousands of flags, buntings and badges. Ali said printing presses had been busy with fulfilling orders by the government for thousands of flags. He said retailers had nearly doubled the prices of badges bunting and flags.
Hafiz Bilal, a street vendor, said people had not been participating in Independence Day celebrations with traditional vigour this year. He said stalls were packed with customers by August 12 but this year only seven people had visited his stall. Bilal said several students had gone back without making any purchases after anticipating traffic blockades and fuel shortages.
Shahid Awan, a vendor, said he had established a stall at Ferozepur Road to sell badges, buntings and flags. He said the public had anticipated the closure of thoroughfares to traffic. Awan said the political deadlock had marred the festivities. He said he would struggle to make ends meet this year. He said it was a pity that the country would be unable to mark Independence Day in a befitting manner.
Hafiz Naeem, a customer at Model Town Link Road, said the price of flags, buntings and badges had doubled. He said flags being sold for Rs700 last year were being offered for sale at Rs1,500 this year. Naeem said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Azadi March had dampened the public’s spirit. He said he had toured the city with his friends every year on Independence Day but would not go out this year due to security concerns.
Ali Shah, a resident of Mughalpura, said he had gotten the silencer of his motorcycle removed for Independence Day celebrations. He said his friends had refused to join him this time as they feared that the government would cause a fuel shortage on August 13 and 14.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2014.