Islamabad - “Trade community is the backbone of country’s economy but the government does not recognise its importance,” said Muhammad Ashfaq, a shopkeeper at Super Market Islamabad who was allegedly humiliated by Capital Development Authority (CDA) task force in front of his customers, as he failed to close his shop at 8:00pm under energy saving programme.

The federal government on Wednesday last decided to shut down shops, marriage halls and restaurants in Islamabad and Punjab at 8:00pm, 10:00pm and 11:00pm respectively. Not only the traders but the residents of federal capital have termed the decision “unwise” and said that it would badly affect the economy of the country.

Trade association of Islamabad, during a meeting held at a local hotel, vehemently rejected the decision and asked the government to review it. They said that through such ‘unwise measures’ no energy could be saved and it would only affect the business activities in the city.

President All-Pakistan Anjuman Tajiran (APAT) Muhammad Ajmal Baloch said that the government did not take the traders into confidence before making the decision. “The government that claims to be business friendly did not consult us before making the decision,” he told The Nation. He said that majority of traders representing different markets of federal capital had rejected the decision; however, across the board decision would be made tomorrow (Saturday).

Sarfraz Mughal, President Traders Welfare Association Super Market, said that the decision and its forceful implementation had offended the traders. He urged the government to respect the traders. “Power issues could be resolved only thorough building new dams and not by the early closure of shops,” added Mughal. He said that most of customers at Super Market represent bureaucrats and foreigners who usually get free after 5:00pm and remains till 7:00pm at home. “When they would come out for shopping it would be almost closing time.” Imran Ahmed, who is a manager at a wedding hall in the federal capital, said that it was totally impossible to finish a wedding ceremony by 10:00pm. He said that daytime functions could not be completed before 5:00pm and it took almost two hours to prepare a hall for dinner. “A marriage ceremony could not be executed in three hours (between 7:00pm and 10:00pm). How baraat reception, nikah, photo session, and dinner could be conducted in a period of three hours?” he asked. Usman, who runs a restaurant at Super Market Islamabad, said that their business activities start from 10:00pm in summer. “The decision of closing restaurants by 11:00pm is nothing but ruining our business.” He wished that the government would take back its decision otherwise it would cause unemployment and economic instability. “If I have to open my restaurant just for a single hour, I would need limited human resources; unwillingly, but I would have to fire some workers,” he said. He said that the traders of Islamabad have been already suffered by exorbitant rents and the construction of metro bus project and they couldn’t afford further measures affecting their business activities. Fahat Bibi, a resident of F-7, said that customers visit markets after 9:00pm in summertime. “If the decision was implemented in true sense, the markets of Islamabad will present deserted look,” she added. When contacted Hamid Subhani, General Secretary Hotel Motel and Wedding Association Islamabad and Northern Region, said if the government could save energy through early closure his association would welcome it but usually such decisions could not be implemented in true spirit.