KARACHI: Back-to-back terrorist attacks in all four provinces have cast a pall of gloom in markets across Pakistan.
Major markets and shopping malls in all major cities including Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi-Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta wore a deserted look Saturday onwards, with unknown SMS and WhatsApp alert messages, some wrongly attributed to the ISPR, warning citizens to stay away from crowded places.
Traders in various markets of Karachi complained of depressed sales since the fresh wave of firing, cracker blasts and suicide attacks.
Chairman All Karachi Tajir Itehad (AKTI) Atiq Mir said that viral SMS and WhatsApp alert messages attributed to the ISPR are scaring people and affecting sales.
Mr Atiq claimed that the activity dipped by 20-30 per cent in various markets of Karachi which were bustling with activity two weeks back.
He said a number of leading garment stores were offering up to 60 per cent discount on winter stocks but failed to attract customers.
“Only people who desperately need products are visiting, particularly in connection with occasions such as wedding,” Mr Atiq said.
Secretary General All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran Abdul Razzak Babar told Dawn that sales of various items in popular markets of Lahore have come down by 30-35pc since the suicide attack at Mall Road in which 17 people were killed.
[pullquote]Alarming ‘alert’ messages from unknown sources spread fear, depress sales
He said sales of shoes, garments and worn clothing have gone down considerably owing to closure of the Pak-Afghan Border few days ago, leaving behind a huge pile-up of unsold stocks.
General Secretary Anjuman-e-Tajiran Balochistan Allah Daad Tareeen said traders from his province mainly purchased items from industries in Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad.
“These shipments are then sent to Afghanistan where hardly any industry exists. Traders of Karachi, Balochistan and Peshawar act as middlemen to ship a number of items to Afghanistan. However, sealing of border has put halt on trading activities,” he added.
Mr Allah Dad said the government should have taken trade bodies into confidence before closing down the border.
Central President Anjuman-e-Tajiran Rawalpindi and Chairman All Pakistan Tajir Itehad, Sharjeel Mir said Rawalpindi traders in different markets have suffered 60pc drop in their sales as buyers are reluctant to visit markets.
All Hyderi Tajir Welfare Association’s Syed Mohammad Saeed said Hyderi Market in North Nazimabad had witnessed a decline of 60pc in sales as people avoid coming in groups.
At times, only one or two people are coming in to buy necessary items, he explained.
Chairman Allawala Market Association Mohammad Asif said Jama Cloth and Allawala Markets had registered 40pc fall in sales.
President Bohri Bazar and Mochi Gali Saddar Market, Mansoor Jack said unlike two weeks ago when sales were in full swing, the sales level is down to 25pc.
A member of Bahaduarabad Traders Association, Imran Saeed Baghpati said that slow arrival of buyers had caused 60pc drop in sales.
A boutique owner at Gulf Shopping Centre, Clifton Asif Hassan said sales had dropped by 50pc especially after Sehwan Sharif incident.