Islamabad’s annual ‘ghost town’ days draw near
The aspect that Islamabad does not have an identity and culture of its own is adequately highlighted each year as Eid draws closer and the rush normally seen in the run-up to the festival culminates with the town becoming virtually deserted.
Considering the fact that a large majority of the inhabitants belong to other cities who leave towards the end of Ramazan to celebrate the event with their families, this Eid too is not going to be any different.
From government officials to businessmen, from bureaucrats to politicians, everybody who is anybody will be heading to their hometowns many miles away. Islamabad, which has been their base throughout the year, would have to take a back seat for the few days of Eid.
This would leave very few people staying back in town to celebrate a festival often termed ‘boring’ by these residents, for there is hardly anything to do except for visiting close relatives. Children find the event fun, although there is not much for them to do either.
For almost an entire week, shops and other businesses remain shut, public transport is non-existent, traffic is pleasant and the roads all of a sudden begin to look wide and inviting, a picture in contrast to all the vehicles that dot the avenues throughout the year.
For Nadeem Qureshi, who has lived in Islamabad for three decades, the days of Eid are a reminder of what the town used to be originally. “The traffic was as thin as we get to see only during Eid now,” he pointed out. “Those were good old days when the city’s sleepy tag held true but it is not so any longer,” he remarked.
Clearly, that label of being a ghost town is relived now only during the course of Eid to some extent for the Islamabad of today is so full of life on normal days – abounding with life and death, so to speak.
So intense, yet brutal has been the action on Islamabad’s streets that the entire world was forced to take notice. The Lal Masjid operation, subsequent suicide blasts, ruthless baton charges by police on lawyers and journalists and a host of other events only went to show that this town is not what it used to be.
But come Eid, all actions and reactions would cease, thereby providing a much-needed breather to the players involved in the political game and others associated with the events in town.
“The Eid holidays are something everyone looks forward to, the security people more so, especially after the past few months that have kept us extremely busy,” said an official of the district administration, not wanting to be named. Soon it would be time for the ‘outsiders’ to head home bringing the curtain down on what have been eventful months that brought more bad news than good for the people.
However, this Eid just might help wash away all the bad memories.