Islamabad, Sept 23 : On Monday, the first working day in Pakistan after Saturday's hotel blast claiming 60 lives, streets and shopping centres wore a deserted look and fear was still visible on people's faces.
All major shopping areas, including Aabpara Market, Melody Market, Super Market, Jinnah Super Market and hotels in Blue Area, which used to be lousy with shoppers from the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and other suburban areas, gave the look of some "one-horse town", reported the Daily Times.
Shopping has shifted to the backburner, even though it's the peak time for Id-shopping. "These are peak days, as the Eid is just 10 days away. But sales have dropped drastically after the blast," the paper quoted Ajmal Baloch, an official of Aabpara Market Traders Action Committee, as saying.
Food chains, hotels and restaurants also experienced a downward trend. "Hotel business has almost come to a halt after the blast. Earlier, they were overbooked for Iftar dinners, but now few people are visiting and their faces bespeak fear for life," Jahangir Kalaam, the manager of a hotel in Blue Area, said.
Kashif Abbasi, owner of a garment store at Jinnah Super Market, reportedly said that the blast had scared majority of the buyers away. "We usually have around 200-300 walk-in customers daily in last weeks of Ramadan, but after the blast hardly any customer turned up during these two days, beginning Saturday, the day the tragedy befell us," he said.
Imtiaz Alam, a shopper, said: "Although we are buy shopping here, our hearts go to the families of those killed in the bombing. If the terrorists could penetrate a high security zone or the Red Zone with so ease, we may only pray for safety of us and the fellow citizens."
Rana Shahbaz, a manger in a shoe shop at Super Market, was quoted as saying that an atmosphere of fear and depression was prevailing in the market after the blast. He said the shoppers and shopkeepers both were in grip of fear. "The blast has killed the spirit of Eid shopping and the entire capital is in a state of mourning, Shahbaz said and added that over 500 people daily visited his stall and shop, but after the blast sales had dropped around 30 percent.