Human Flower Project

Flowers Go Begging in Islamabad

Panic is bad for the flower business. Just ask the vendors in Pakistan’s capital.


A canary tests for methane fumes

Photo: via

If a canary can sing in a coal mine, the air is safe for human lungs.  And, we would argue, if flowers are for sale on the streets, a city is civil – is safe to dwell and travel in.

By this litmus test, Islamabad is rapidly deteriorating. Flower sales are declining across the Pakistani capital, down 3/4 for this time of year. Atif Khan, writing for the Daily Times, interviewed several street florists who all bemoan the current state of affairs.

Umar Ahmen, a flower seller at F-6market, told the Times, 
“Our business has been slashed by 75 percent as people, especially foreigners, have restricted themselves to their houses out of fear of terrorist attacks. Panic prevails here.”


On September 20, a truck loaded with explosives drove into the city’s big Marriott Hotel, killing 55 people and wounding at least 250 more. Since then police have set up checkpoints across the city, restricting movement, and travelers are fleeing. Prior to the Marriott attack, there had been bombings at a French restaurant and the Danish embassy.


Floral rangoli for a bride’s mehandi ceremony

Photo: Mohati

The clampdown and general air of fear, sadly, come just at wedding season.

“Out of scare,” said Ahmed, many families in the city have decided “they cannot arrange mega parties in the open or at hotels. When there are no parties, there are no flower buyers. 
People avoid getting their vehicles decorated with flowers on wedding ceremonies because this way they would become conspicuous to robbers.”

Another Pakistani wedding custom, rose petals for the mehandi, has been curtailed, the flower sellers say.


Flower sellers busy in April 2008, Islamabad, Pakistan

Photo: Sean Kenney

“Our business depends on happiness and peace,” said Ameeruddin, another street florist. “If people are happy and city is calm, they would buy flowers, arrange parties, celebrate weddings, and exchange gifts with lovers.”

May flower buying, and all that provides for it, soon return to Islamabad.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/29 at 12:49 PM


In Islamabad, I can understand the fear, but I also believe the shaky economies may be contributing to the decline in sales as well.

I recently returned from touring the Black Sea area in mid-October, and was surprised by the lack of flowers being sold in any of the marketplaces I visited. The only local marketplace I even saw flower vendors was in Odessa,Ukraine. And business didn’t look too brisk.

Although many of the parks and public areas were beautifully landscaped, especially in Russia and the Ukraine, I didn’t see any fresh flowers used in the restaurants and hotel lobbies there. Could be it’s just a slower time for these seaside resort areas, but I’m guessing it might be the decline in the value of their currency.

I did see more flowers being sold Istanbul, as well as several cars decorated with flowers for a wedding. Sure made it seem like a more inviting and friendly city than some the others I visited.

Posted by Milwaukee florist on 11/02 at 07:17 PM
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