Another day of blockades, traffic jams
RAWALPINDI, Feb 19: Citizens in the twin cities on Tuesday endured another day of road blockades and traffic jams due to the protest sit-ins against the Quetta killings.
A foreign delegation, which was to leave Islamabad at around 4pm, could not move to the Nur Khan Airbase Chaklala due to the closure of roads and a sit-in outside Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
It has been learnt that sensing security concern on Islamabad Expressway, Rawal Road and a protest in front of the airport entry gate, the security establishment decided to delay the departure of the foreign delegation. A decision was also made to move the delegation from Sadiqabad side, but due to the protest at Faizabad the move was aborted.
The sit-in protests by workers of different organisations of the Shia community caused traffic jams on various roads in Rawalpindi, causing problems for the commuters, especially students.
The protesters, who were generally peaceful, blocked Benazir Bhutto Road at Liaquat Bagh, Naz Cinema Chowk and Katchury Chowk by putting bricks and setting old tryes on fire.
The sit-in at the airport entrance left commuters and air passengers stranded for several hours. Routine life in the twin cities came to a halt as hundreds of vehicles were stuck on roads.
On the other hand, transporters kept majority of their vehicles off the roads.
Commuters were seen moving on foot between Mareer Chowk, Committee Chowk and Naz Cinema.
Farooq Qadri, an airline employee, told Dawn on telephone from Rawal Road, that he was to join his duty at 8pm but had already got late by half-an-hour.
“Many of my colleagues are also stuck in the traffic. Some air passengers are heading towards the airport on foot, pulling their suitcases,” the airline employee said. He added that hundreds of passengers had missed their flights on Monday and the same was expected today.
Students returning from the University of Engineering Taxila (UET) also remained stuck for over five hours. “We left the university at 3.30pm but after five hours we are waiting for the reopening of the road near Tarnol,” Mohammad Bilal, a student of MSc, told Dawn on telephone, adding it looked as they have to spend the night in the bus.
Till the filing of this report at about 10pm, the sit-in outside the airport was continuing.