RAWALPINDI, Sept 5: The PML-N may be one party but it has different rules in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), a reincarnation of the outlawed Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, is all set to hold a public meeting in the historic Liaquat Bagh and in Islamabad to celebrate Defence Day on Friday and in the process it has revealed the disconnect between the Islamabad and Rawalpindi administration – though they are both run by the PML-N.
While the government in Islamabad has still not taken a decision on whether or not JuD will be allowed to hold a meeting in front of the Parliament, the local administration and the police of the garrison city seem to have no problem allowing the outfit headed by Hafiz Saeed to hold the public gathering.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong if JuD holds a public meeting or a Friday congregation in the city,” said SSP operation Rawalpindi Israr Ahmed Abbasi while talking to Dawn.
“If they follow the laid down procedure and if their request meets the criteria set for holding a public meeting or a rally, we are bound to accept it without hesitation.”
On the other hand, the capital police and administration are still undecided on how to deal with the rally when it arrives on Friday afternoon, sources said.
Three days ago, the chief commissioner Islamabad office sent a written request to the interior ministry seeking guidelines but so far they have not heard from the government.
A local administration official though did hold out the assurance that the issue would be discussed in a meeting scheduled for Friday morning.
In fact, at the moment it is not even clear where the meeting would be held in Islamabad – if the JuD is let in.
After the organisers were told that they would not be allowed in the Red Zone, they asked the capital administration if JuD could set up a stage for their leaders at Express Chowk. However, this request is still pending as well.
SSP Abbasi in Pindi, however, has no worries. He said the representatives of the organisation had approached the police department for permission, promising that the rally members would follow the code of conduct, including not installing loudspeakers on the roads and keeping the participants to the public gathering area.
Another police official said JuD had also held such an event in the city on July 9, 2012, under the banner of Difa-i-Pakistan Council to protest the restoration of the Nato supplies by the then federal government.
When contacted, District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sajid Zafar said: “The representatives of JuD came to my office and informed me that they wanted to hold a gathering on September 6. I suggested they seek permission in writing and send a formal request to the city police officer (CPO) and the special branch.”
He said he had received the reports from the CPO and the special branch which suggested giving permission to JuD for holding the gathering though they wanted that security should be enhanced in the garrison city.
“After receiving the reports, I gave permission for the Friday gathering but not for the rally. We are in contact with the provincial government whether or not to allow the outfit to hold a rally in Islamabad,” he said.
The DCO added that the administration had been assured that the gathering would remain peaceful.
After the Liaquat Bagh public meeting, JuD will head off to Islamabad.
“The Friday prayers at Liaquat Bagh will be led by Hafiz Mohammad Saeed. After the Friday prayers, the participants will go to D. Chowk in Islamabad in the shape of a rally. Hafiz Saeed, Maulana Samiul Haq, JI chief Syed Munawar Hassan, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Mushahid Hussain are likely to address the gathering in Islamabad,” said Asif Khurshid, a spokesman for JuD.
However, some of the politicians that the JuD claims to have on board are not planning to attend the event.
When contacted, Sheikh Rashid told Dawn that he would not attend the JuD public meeting and rally in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
He said he would be celebrating Defence Day at Wagah border.
“The representatives of JuD had come to Lal Haveli to invite me to the public meeting in Rawalpindi and Islamabad but my party had already planned to participate in the flag-hoisting ceremony at Wagah border. So I politely declined,” he said.
However, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) chief Munawar Hassan will participate in the public meeting and rally. “The JI Amir is invited and he will attend the rally,” said JI secretary information Anwar Niazi.
In Islamabad, nothing is clear except for the decision that the rally would not be allowed to enter the Red Zone.
A police officer also said no one would be allowed to deliver anti-state speeches.
The police and the city administration have also arranged barbed wires, barricades and containers to block the roads. But whether or not these rally-unfriendly items would be used on Friday still remains undecided.