Pakistanis too scared to even go out shopping

Date: 15 Feb 2008


Pakistanis too scared to even go out shopping
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Posted online: Tuesday , February 12, 2008 at 08:50:47
Updated: Tuesday , February 12, 2008 at 09:09:01 Print Email To 
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Islamabad, February 12: The series of bomb blasts across Pakistan 
have given residents of its capital cold feet and some of them are 
even refusing to step out to shop. 
While businessmen moan about the sharp dip in sales, residents say 
they want to play safe and stay indoors. Rehana Khan, who lives in 
the upmarket sector F-7/3, has cut down on her many shopping sprees. 

"Ever since Benazir Bhutto's assassination it is clear that 
Islamabad and Rawalpindi have become potential targets for 
terrorists. So no more shopping outings unless, of course, it is 
absolutely essential," said Khan. 

But when Khan does step out of her home, she takes someone along and 
keeps her family informed. 

Some other residents have gone to the extent of giving up their 
morning or evening walks. "I do miss my early morning walks. But in 
these times it is better to stay indoors. You never know when 
disaster will strike," said another housewife in whose neighbourhood 
an American diplomat was found dead recently with a gunshot wound to 
the head. 

The restrictions have not left the youngsters untouched. "My parents 
are so finicky about my stepping out. I just hate it. Why do these 
people have go around bombing people and places?" rued Fatima Ahmed, 
a university student whose outdoor activities are now "zilch". 

"My phone keeps beeping every hour or so even when I am at college. 
My mother becomes hysterical if I don't answer the phone," she said. 

Some say the military operation against militants holed up in the 
Lal Masjid last year changed everything for residents of Islamabad. 

"The Lal Masjid episode makes residents feel less secure. If such a 
thing can happen in the heart of the federal capital, which other 
part of Pakistan is safe?" said Khan. 

The not-so-well-to-do families who look forward to shopping at the 
weekly markets in the G-8 sector or Aabpara, which is near the Lal 
Masjid, are also taking no chances. 

"I don't let my wife and children go to these weekly markets. You 
never know where terror strikes. There is no way these suicide 
bombers can be stopped," said Altaf Zaki, who was stocking up for 
the week at the G-8 market. 

The businessmen are sulking. 

"I wish I could blame it on the cold, but that's not true. People 
are not stepping out on a sunny afternoon either," complained 
Shahnawaz Ali, a shopkeeper at the city's commercial hub of Blue 

Ali said sales had never dipped like this in the past two 
decades. "It's been a bad season. I hope the law and order situation 
improves. I wish people would throng the markets again," he said. 

Hot Spot - a favourite hangout for the young and well heeled - is 
allowing the entry of only couples and families due to security 
reasons. The coffee shop's management has even put up a board 
announcing its decision. Security has also been beefed in other top 
hotels of the city. 

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