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June 9, 2019

Has Islamabad grown enough to have Eid?


June 9, 2019

Islamabad was originally supposed to be a city of armies of babus, lowere grade government employees and domestic servants. Since it has been inhabited by outsiders, it used to give a deserted look on Eid festivals because everyone wanted to be with their extended families on these occasions. But gradually the city has acquired the status of a normal metropolitan where people have fun together on Eids.

Looking at the changing status of the city, its old residents sit together and run their horses of memory to old days. Back in 1990s, I remember driving on roads my university fellows would wonder as to why traffic lights have been installed since the traffic was very scant those days. Coming to Peshawar Morr, where Sunday Bazaar was set up, which still is there with a slight shift in its location, our seniors would tell us that this spot used to be the end of the city. The area was thickly populated by Afghan refugee families who would crowd the Sunday Bazaar, which was neatly tucked in the green belt.

No one could have thought of the fact that this green belt would one day be eaten out with all its charms, sports facilities and trees by a big signal-free road known now as the 9th Avenue. The city has grown far past Tarnol and is virtually touching the boundaries of Wah. Good quality roads have been laid on Margallas and the divide between Islamabad and KP has been blurred.

Affordable restaurants and hotels on Margallas now pull big crowds on Eids. Earlier, Monal was the only attraction for Islamabiites but now people go further up the mountain and climb the steep heights to sit on top of the city at the terrace of other lavish hotels like Highland Resort. People of Islamabad are very choosy, it has been observed, when it comes to spend Eid day. Looking at markets in general, you may get an impression that the city is empty but the moment you to their places of choice, you not find a way to get out.

Similarly, all Blue Area may be closed but the choicest bakery and hotels will not have any parking space left vacant. Though capital crowds are different from other cities, but you would find that people are standing in lines to get their orders done.

Murree, for all the bad press it gets, remains an attraction to traditional Rawalpindites on the first Eid day as Islamabiites prefer going there on the second or third Eid day.

On the Punjab side, Islamabad has been extended till Gujjar Khan and residents of these housing societies have their own ways to celebrate Eid. PWD Market is the largest business hub in this part of the city, which remains crowded on the second Eid day as on first Eid day people prefer being busy with families. Since these societies have few parks, residents would make a beeline to Islamabad Zoo or Margallas, adding to the crowds that have already filled that region.

The second and third generations of its residents have brought life to the capital city as the first generation was firmly glued to their ancestral cities and towns. It is a logical conclusion that Eid is going to be more fun in Islamabad in the years to come, which is a good omen for its residents.

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