“Not in the near future, at least,” said the spokesperson, Major (retd) Aurangzeb Unar. “Maybe someday we will think of something but not right now. There is no such thing in the pipeline and, according to my personal opinion, I don’t think it will ever come back.”
Rumours circulated among shopkeepers that the bazaar will be allowed to set up near Do Darya before Muharram but the Defence Housing Authority disagreed. “It won’t come back because there is no space in DHA that can accommodate it. There is construction happening everywhere in DHA and there is no space to establish it again,” explained Unar.
“The first priority goes to the plot owners, so when the places near the plots started populating, we did not renew the expired contract of Sunday Bazaar and gave it back to its owners according to their wishes,” he said. “We had informed the contractor beforehand and also gave them a grace period of three months before closing the bazaar,” he clarified.
Running since 1981, the Sunday Bachat Bazaar changed places and faces until the semi-permanently constructed and organised Sunday Bazaar was established in 2009 in Phase VIII. DHA announced the contract procedure through a newspaper advertisement, after which an auction was held, with the contract going to the highest bidder.
“I started with selling potatoes and onions at a stall at the old Itwaar Bazaar but, decades later, I was given the contract for the entire modern bazaar,” said Haji Farooq. The heavy built man in white shalwar kameez, sporting a shiny off-white waistcoat and Sindhi cap was the bazaar’s last contractor. Farooq paid Rs700,000 per month for the bazaar’s contract, as bought at the auction.
The Bazaar comprised approximately 2,500 stalls, including small stalls and shops, according to the DHA authorities. The contract ended on December 31, 2014. Most of the bazaar’s stall owners, child porters and cleaners have relocated to different bazaars in the city. A large number of the stall owners and these children can be found working at the bazaar near the Qayyumabad Chowrangi.
“I used to get all these vintage cameras and once I found a Beatles coaster,” recalled Mahwish Rafay, one of the bazaar’s loyal customers who still awaits the return of Sunday Bazaar. “Things you will never find anywhere but in Sunday Bazaar,” she added.
“I used to go to Sunday Bazaar even before it was properly built so, for a person like me and others who have gone there since their childhood, it’s a big loss,” said Mina Satti, another former customer. “They should re-launch it, even if it’s outside the city I am ready to go there and I am sure lots of people will be too. If people can go to Super Highway for food, then they can go there for shopping too. Sunday Bazaar had people coming from all over the city; it was not just for the people of Defence.”
She felt that this is the right time to secure space for Sunday Bazaar on Super Highway given the launch of Bahria Town, DHA City and other housing schemes. “Open it with the name Defence Bachat Bazaar so people know that it is the same thing,” she suggested.