On the third day of mourning after the assassination of former People’s Party Chairperson Benazir Bhutto, life is far away from normal here in North Nazimabad as residents of the area continue to face many hardships and were evidently enraged.
Law and order however has been largely maintained. Rangers and policemen were seen patrolling the roads and streets in the town. Local businesses have been hurt the hardest over the last three days. One bakery owner in the area contacted by this correspondent explained that over the last three days, he was compelled to shut down his business by evening prayers and that he was operating at a ‘one hundred percent loss.’ He said that due to the deteriorating law and order situation, he had to close his shop immediately after he heard the first news of Ms Bhutto’s assassination on Thursday. This according to him, led to the wastage of almost all of the stock that he had of bread and some other items.
On Sunday, most of the Hydri market remained closed. Some of the shops that were still open till evening were mostly general stores and milk-shops. The market’s main car parking area that is adjacent to the bus stop and opposite to the North Nazimabad General Post Office, holds a popular motorcycle exhibition where new and used motorbikes are put up for sale every Sunday during the afternoon and evening. The area however bore a completely desolate look yesterday. Hydri market’s deserted streets were occupied by children and male youth who enjoyed their evening away by playing cricket there.
The main PSO petrol pump at Golden Gate was open throughout the day but the tents that surrounded the pump till yesterday were however not removed. After a brief closure at around 6.00 pm, the pump was once again opened when police reached the area and the enraged crowd of motorcyclists and drivers was brought under control. Long cues of enraged and disgusted customers were seen at this pump in the evening.
The Mehran Welfare complex is a major shopping zone that has a large general store, which has attracted many customers over the last three days. A visit made by this correspondent to the complex confirmed that the authorities had increased prices of some essential purchasing commodities like sugar and rice, as they tried to meet the demands of the residents and families who flocked the departmental store over there to purchase items of daily usage, as general stores all around the Hydri market and the Matric Board office remained closed. Sugar was being sold at Rs. 27 per Kg and the 5Kg Basmati rice that is normally priced at Rs. 250, was being sold for Rs.380, indicating an increase of mark-up by Rs. 26 per Kg. Prices of wheat could not be confirmed from anywhere as the few general stores that were open, Including this Welfare Complex, had already run out of wheat (atta) stocks.
Fast food franchise outlets, local restaurants and eateries and offices of banks and cellular phone service providers, remained closed for a third straight day on Sunday.
It is now evident that during these last few tumultuous days, like in most of Karachi, residents of North Nazimabad are being made to go through a lot of financial and non-financial hardships in order to procure commodities of daily consumption that also includes fuel.