ISLAMABAD: As twin protests in Islamabad entered a fifth day on Tuesday, the Pakistan Army has put its troops in Islamabad on ‘high alert’, with the 111 Brigade positioned in the Red Zone.
The 111 Brigade has often been used to secure Islamabad - as well as used in military takeovers.
Fearing any untoward incident taking place if the PTI or PAT enter the Red Zone, Lieutenant General Qamar Bajwa, Commander 10 Corps, contacted top officials of the Islamabad Police for coordination to ensure security of key government installations located on Constitution Avenue.
The troops were deployed in the federal capital under Article 245 of the Constitution. The government had taken this controversial measure for securing Islamabad amid the spectre of a political showdown. The army is however not bound to act in aid of the Islamabad police in the enforcement of this section unless Chief Commissioner Islamabad orders them to do so.
In an earlier report, a military source put the number of troops stationed in the capital for security duties at about 350. But the city administration had told reporters that over 500 soldiers had been deployed.
Imran said on Monday he would lead protesters into the capital's “Red Zone”, an area home to Western embassies and key government ministries. Police have estimated the number of people at the protests at around 55,000, including many women and children.
The government has previously said protesters are not allowed to enter the area. It is flooded with riot police and paramilitary forces and cordoned off with shipping containers and barbed wire.
The government has not said whether Khan would be able to proceed to the Red Zone or not.
PAT Chief Tahirul Qadri has said he will meet his supporters later today to consider whether to march alongside Imran. Their protests have so far remained separate because the two have different supporters and plans for what should happen if Sharif steps down.
On the political front, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah has also summoned a meeting of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and allies parties in the parliament house to chalk out strategy to prevent Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) from entering red zone and to end the political crisis peacefully.
Police vow Red Zone will not be breached
Islamabad, Punjab and Azad Kashmir police put on duty in the federal capital, have stated that no one will be allowed to enter the Red Zone.
The police have mostly been equipped with shields, helmets and batons.
The said that they have not received any specific instructions and at the same time expressed fears of protestors storming the barriers and snatching their equipment
Police expressed their hope the matter could be resolved without the need for protestors transgressing into the Red Zone, but added, "We will take action if ordered, since we receive our salaries from the government".