The Islamabad district administration on Tuesday evening unsealed Centaurus Mall after about 18 hours of closing by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for allegedly “violating” building regulations.
The Centaurus Mall was unsealed after the district administration held talks with traders, who had been protesting since the morning by blocking Jinnah Avenue and warned that they would bring the capital to a halt if the mall was not opened.
The PTI had linked the closure of the mall to the protest by Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, who owns the mall, during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s speech in Mangla.
“Sealing of Centaurus Mall by PDM mafia in response to PM AJK censuring SS for nor mentioning sacrifices of Kashmiris shows there is law of jungle in Pak since last 8 mths. Sends negative signals to Kashmiris too. Q for our Honourable Judges: Are they not upholders of the law?” tweeted Imran.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry also slammed the move.
“AJK PM during [Prime Minister] Shehbaz Sharif’s speech stood on his seat and protested against Pakistan’s weak stance on Kashmir issue for which first his car was stopped in Mangla and today his business has been sealed,” tweeted Fawad.
“Never before in Pakistan’s history has there been a government as fascist as this one. If AJK’s PM will be subjected to such treatment just for protesting, then what message are you conveying to occupied Kashmir and the foreign investors in the country? Such actions will only drag the already whimpering economy down,” Fawad tweeted.
‘Pathetic, vengeful, fascist’
The PTI linked the sealing of the mall to criticism of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif by Azad Jammu and Kashmir premier Sardar Tanveer Ilyas — who owns the mall — for “not mentioning the sacrifices of Kashmiri people” during a speech on Monday.
PM Shehbaz inaugurated the refurbishment project of units 5 and 6 of the Mangla Dam Hydroelectric Power Plant, built on the Jhelum River in Mangla area of AJK, on Monday where he addressed the project’s inauguration ceremony.
As he was winding up his speech, Ilyas interrupted him and asked what he had done for AJK.
In a video clip that went viral on social media, PM Shehbaz could be seen gesturing to the AJK premier to sit down and raise his concerns after the speech.
According to a witness, after wrapping up his speech, PM Shehbaz hurriedly left the venue without heeding to Ilyas, who tried his best to get the premier’s attention.
Later, at a press conference, Ilyas said PM Sharif’s body language and gestures spoke volumes of his “irascibility”. He also said PM Shehbaz’s omission of Kashmiris’ sacrifices in his speech was tantamount to “insulting” the Kashmiri people.
On Tuesday, PTI chief Imran Khan weighed in on the matter. “Sealing of Centaurus Mall by [the] PDM mafia in response to PM AJK censuring Shehbaz Sharif for not mentioning sacrifices of Kashmiris shows there is law of the jungle in Pak since last 8 months,” said Imran.
The move “sends negative signals to Kashmiris too. Question for our honourable judges: Are they not upholders of the law?” he tweeted.
Later, retorting to Imran’s tweet, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb fired a volley of allegations towards the PTI chief and said he had better not tell the premier what he should say on Kashmir.
Separately, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry also claimed that the sealing of Centaurus Mall was a consequence of Ilyas’ criticism of the premier as the former ran the mall.
“First his car was stopped in Mangla and today, in Islamabad, his business Centaurus Mall was sealed. A more fascist and non-democratic government has not come to power in Pakistan’s history.
“If you are meting out this treatment to the AJK prime minister only for his criticism, what message are you giving to occupied Kashmir? What message are you giving to the investors in this country?” he questioned.
Meanwhile, PTI leader Shireen Mazari termed the move “pathetic” and an example of “petty vengeful behaviour” of the incumbent government.
“The petty vengeful behaviour of crime minister and the state is showing everywhere, especially since they cannot get their act together to stop their economic disaster and political chaos. So PM AJK criticised Shehbaz Sharif for not mentioning Kashmiris’ sacrifices and Shehbaz Sharif responded by sealing Centaurus. Pathetic,” she tweeted.
Decrying the development, All Pakistan Anjuman-i-Tajiran (APAT) President Ajmal Baloch termed the sealing of the mall “in the darkness of night an act of revenge”.
A statement by the APAT quoted him as saying that placing curbs on livelihoods for “political revenge” was not appropriate and that the sealing of the mall was clear evidence of the “act of revenge”.
“Livelihoods of several traders are associated with Centaurus Mall and its closure will deprive several employees of jobs,” he said, also mentioning that the building also comprised residences.
He added, “Those who advised sealing the mall have damaged the reputation of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif”.
Baloch vowed that they would not let the traders’ community become a “victim of political revenge” at any cost.
“The trader community of Islamabad is standing with the traders of Centaurus Mall,” he said.
The APAT president demanded the government immediately issues directives for de-sealing the mall and warned of “blocking Jinnah Avenue” otherwise.