ISLAMABAD: All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran on Saturday gave the government a deadline till July 31 to meet their demands after the traders took to the streets of the capital to record their protest against closure of businesses. “Traders should be given interest-free loans,” APAT and Traders Action Committee Islamabad President Ajmal Baloch said, adding that if their demands were not met till July 31, a “send the government home” campaign would start. Pakistan has imposed a lockdown across the country to stem the spread of the coronavirus due to which several businesses have been restricted from operating, while those open are bound to close shops earlier. Demonstrators honked car horns and trumpets during the protest under the slogan “honk your horn, wake up the government”. APAT president said that if Imran Khan was allowed to stage a sit-in in front of the Prime Minister House then why were traders barred from doing the same. The traders have demanded that restaurants, schools, hotels, and wedding halls be allowed to resume activities immediately, adding that businesses be allowed to operate till 10pm. The businessmen said that the police have prohibited the traders coming from all over the country from entering Islamabad. “If the roads are not opened [for them], they will hold a sit-in wherever they are,” the protesters said. Baloch said that the entrance to Islamabad from Zero Point has been sealed, adding that traders should be allowed to enter as they were holding a peaceful protest. The APAT president said that the protesters from Sindh and Balochistan were not allowed to enter Islamabad. The protesters plan to march from Zero Point to the Prime Minister’s House. Furthermore, a protest caravan of APAT in Lahore had left for Islamabad under the leadership of General Secretary APAT Naeem Mir. According to Mir, the intensity of the coronavirus pandemic has started to decrease and in the light of this development, businesses should be allowed to reopen. Mir assured the government that the protesters would remain “peaceful”. The traders held a demonstration at Serena Chowk after holding successful talks with Islamabad Police.
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