LAHORE, Dec 30 (Bernama) — Today is the final day of the three-day official mourning period as a mark of respect for slain former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and the busy commercial city of Lahore, like many other cities, remains at a standstill.
As Pakistan grieves following the assassination of the political icon in Rawalpindi on Thursday, all shops, gas stations and banks here have remained shut for the past two days and public transport services are not running, crippling the city’s normal business. Only newspapers are selling, and fast too.
Riot police in full gear continue to monitor the city from dawn to dusk, a common scene at every nook and corner. Rioting, burning of vehicles and looting continue to be the order of the day here and in most other cities.
“For the past three days, people have not gone out to get provisions. Nobody dares to go out. There is much security presence on the streets. We don’t know what our future is going to be,” Malek Khan, a property developer in Lahore, told Bernama.
Lahore Press Club president Mohsin Goraya said Pakistan has yet to recover from the death of Bhutto. He also said that the club had postponed its annual elections.
“We have to wait until the three-day mourning is over. Only then will we know what the political situation is going to be,” he added.
The press club, which has been holding peaceful protests nationwide for the past 60 days against the government’s new regulations which curtail press freedom, decided to postpone the protests as a mark of respect for Bhutto.
Weddings and entertainment have taken on a low-key atmosphere as most Pakistanis continue to mourn the loss of their charismatic leader who had promised to bring major changes to the nation, especially to ordinary workers.
Bhutto was assassinated on Thursday as she was leaving in a vehicle after having addressed a crowd in Rawalpindi. Initial reports said she was shot by a gunman who then blew himself up, killing several other people as well.
The Pakistan government released a report claiming that her death was caused by an injury sustained when her head hit a lever of the vehicle’s sunroof and was not due to gunshots, creating a controversy.