Citizens distraught over burning of trees, green belts by PTI’s violent protesters

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad the ‘beautiful’ lost some of its ‘pride assets,’ old shadowy trees as the city remained at the mercy of charged marches and protesters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) all Wednesday night and Thursday morning. They had come to express solidarity with their leader, former Prime Minister and chairman of the PTI, Imran Khan at the D-Chowk.

However, when they learned he was not coming to join them, they gave vent to their anger by setting on fire some of the rarest trees which were Islamabad’s identity. Not only trees, they even did not spare green belts of the D-Chowk, in Blue Area, Srinagar Highway and even inside the Red Zone giving the city the look of a haunted town.

After Thursday morning after the departing announcement of Imran Khan to his workers that he was calling off the march for six day, anger and anguish took over marchers’ sense of loyalty and commitment and they went berserk, stoning buildings, vehicles and even assaulting the policemen.

“We are feeling let down and humiliated at Imran Khan’s sudden change of heart,” said Dilawar Khan, a PTI worker who had come all the way from Peshawar. This is something that we were not expecting.

Meanwhile, the residents of Islamabad also expressed their anger not for Imran Khan but for police and law enforcers who failed to prevent the charged protesters.

We did not expect such callous behavior by the protesters or the police. Though most of Islamabadites identified themselves with Imran Khan and his movement, however, seeing the PTI workers setting the trees and green belts on fire was even beyond their wildest imagination.

We cannot even think that Islamabad should be deprived of its pride asset i.e. trees by such an unruly mob, said Amina, a resident of G-6 sector who had come to participate in the protest. This is right that Imran Khan could not make it but this doesn’t mean that we should react to that extent that we cease to be human beings, she said. Use of force and tear gas by police also ignited their anger, she said blaming the police.

Shahid, a student of International Islamic University also expressed his dismay and anger over the scenes of violence and unrest all Wednesday night and Thursday night. Islamabad is our identity, said he adding he grew up seeing the beautiful pine, oak, Amaltas, Kachnar and other trees. They are like tall, rough but merciful watchmen standing along the both sides of the road protecting you and providing you the much needed shade on a hot day. Setting them on fire cannot be and should not be spared, he pleaded.

Waheed Ahmed, a worker at one of the restaurants on D-Chowk also regretted the protesters’ behavior and violence towards (police)men and trees. This can’t be justified as Islamabad is the second most beautiful capital in the world after London. Sadly, it stands strewn with empty shopping bags, canes, plastic bottles, tissue papers and filth of all sorts he said.

By Thursday evening no one had come from the municipal department of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) or the Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) to remove the garbage.

Various areas of Islamabad including D-Chowk, Faizabad Interchange, Blue Area, Khayber Chowk were battlegrounds of the police-marchers’ clashes and it would take some time to heal the city’s wounds.


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