Following a decision by Islamabad authorities to seal Centaurus Mall on the night between Monday and Tuesday, local traders with businesses in the establishment have taken to the streets in protest, demanding the mall be opened.
A notice placed outside the mall read, “The premises has been sealed on account of non-conforming use by order of director building control-city, CDA (Capital Development Authority),” while the mall was cordoned off with barbed wire and police vans were stationed nearby.
In protest, traders and business owners blocked Jinnah Avenue and the load leading up to the Parliament. They demanded that the mall be opened immediately otherwise they will ‘shut down all of Islamabad’.
Video footage from Islamabad shows huge crowds gathered outside the mall. CDA officials reportedly escorted mall staff outside.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders are insistent that the closure of the mall was an act of ‘political revenge’. They attribute the act to a spat between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Azad Jammu and Kashmir premier Sardar Tanveer Ilyas who is the owner of the mall.
The alleged spat took place on Monday, when PM Shehbaz was inaugurating a project on the Mangla Dam Hydroelectric Power Plant, which is situated in the Mangla region of AJK, and failed to mention the ‘sacrifices of the Kashmiri people’ in his inaugural address.
Following the event, Ilyas in a press conference said that PM Shehbaz’s failure to mention the Kashmiris’ sacrifices in his address was the equivalent of “insulting” the Kashmiri people.
After the mall was sealed on Monday night, PTI chairman Imran Khan took to Twitter to register his displeasure.