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From Islamabad the beautiful to Islamabad the barred

Discussion in 'South Asia & SAARC' started by DrSomnath999, Aug 8, 2011.

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  1. DrSomnath999

    DrSomnath999 Major RESEARCHER

    Jun 11, 2011
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    I grew up in Islamabad at a time when there were barely any roads, let alone the carpeted under-passes and overhead bridges of today. There were no “Isloo-ites”, no Glorias, Hardees, or KFCs even. Yet there was a feeling of belonging, a sense of serenity and calmness that perhaps no other city could match, at least for me. I used to cycle around the lush green city as a kid and while my family and friends from Lahore and Karachi would go on and on about “Lahore Lahore hai” and “Karachi – the city of Lights”, I would find solace in peace that “Islamabad – the beautiful” offered to its, at the time, relatively less population.

    All this changed, however. With development the trees went, and with terror looming around everywhere, Islamabad was soon becoming a maximum security facility, obviously not literally. Only a few years ago in the government of a “dictator” the road to the President House was open to public, and now in the government of the public, forget the Presidency, there is barely a road left without a check post.

    There is one right in front of Marriott hotel while one side of the road is completely blocked in front of Serena hotel. A large chunk of an extremely well made road is blocked and is partly used as parking for people coming to the Secretariat. Huge cement blocks are found in front of private houses on the Margalla Road as well as elsewhere. One may ask how that is a problem, I may put what I want on my land. However, these blocks are put in front of private houses on public roads ruining the whole atmosphere as well as traffic of the area.

    If five star hotels’ and foreign diplomats’ state protection was not creating enough hindrance to the citizens of the capital, now private streets too have become fortified and guarded by private check posts in the city of green. To roam or not to roam freely has become a pertinent question if you want to visit your relatives or friends in certain parts of the city as you would be questioned upon your entrance and if you are just in the mood for a relaxing stroll, well the old Islamabad neighborhood might not be your best bet. If the same amount would be spent on check posts elsewhere in the country where they are actually required such as the Thal-Parachinar road and the Landi-Kotal drive perhaps half the worries of the people of that region would abate.

    While check posts are legal, the concept of blocking a public street by private security guards and barriers seem to be quite an appalling situation. It shows the insecurity that has fallen around the country. One wonders, if the capital is so fear-ridden what might be the situation in the tribal areas? Yes, the check posts serve a purpose, but private security barriers not only go against the law by blocking public streets to the public, they increase a culture of elite security pockets found in war ridden countries of Africa.

    Islamabad is still very clean and the weather as well as atmosphere of the city puts it apart from much of the country. Private investments have given rise to many a new hotels and mega-structures, for example, the currently in development, Centaurus. It is still very peaceful and compared to other big cities of Pakistan, Islamabad does not yet have a traffic problem. There are wide roads that cater to most of the population as well as the approximately half a million people that come in to the city every day for one reason or another.

    Although with an ever increasing number of check posts on every nook of the city, how long that will remain true, one cannot say. I fear the day some delusional terrorist decides to blow up in the midst of hundreds of cars lined up around a check post waiting for questioning.
    The author is a policy analyst and a social worker from Islamabad who believes that the glass is half full. He can be reached at siddique.humayun@gmail.com and The Weekend
    From Islamabad the beautiful to Islamabad the barred | Blog | DAWN.COM
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011
  2. Jungibaaz

    Jungibaaz Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

    May 9, 2011
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    Anything wrong with security? I'd rather have a safe and hard to access Islamabad then a vulnerable Islamabad.
    1 person likes this.
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