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Confusion persists over SC direction about removal of marchers

Updated August 26, 2014


Police personnel stand alert near the sites of the sit-ins in Islamabad on Monday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
Police personnel stand alert near the sites of the sit-ins in Islamabad on Monday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: The capital police and administration on Monday were directed to ensure the implementation of the Supreme Court decision to vacate the Constitution Avenue from the participants of the PAT sit-in.

However, there was still confusion about the apex court’s decision regarding the removal of the sit-in participants.

When contacted, Zulfiqar Bhutta, a Supreme Court lawyer, told Dawn that the SC had only asked the lawyers of the PTI and PAT and the attorney general of Pakistan to get the Constitution Avenue vacated through negotiations. He said the court had not issued any direction to the interior ministry, the capital administration and the police in this regard.

Advocate Bhutta said Section 144 was already imposed in the capital and the apex court could summon the city administration and the police and scold them for their failure to implement the section, which prohibits the assembly of five or more people at a place.

Police officials say they have not received any direction to vacate Constitution Avenue

But at a meeting held after the decision of the apex court, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan discussed the possible outcome of the court order. The meeting was attended by officials of the Islamabad and Rawalpindi administrations.

The minister directed the officials to ensure the implementation of the apex court direction and be prepared for meeting any emergency situation.

The minister also expressed the hope that things would soon settled peacefully as negotiations with the organisers of the sit-ins were progressing smoothly.

He also discussed with the administration officials the possible relocation of the participants of the sit-ins from the Red Zone to any other venue. The new sites for the participants of the sit-ins and their security were also discussed at the meeting.

When contacted, officials of the interior ministry, police and the local administration on the condition of anonymity said: “We will wait for a clear direction from the Supreme Court for getting the sit-in sites vacated.”

They said the court had issued the direction to the lawyers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek along with the attorney general. They said the interior ministry, police and the local administration would not act without a clear direction.

“Definitely, if the direction is issued, force will be used against the marchers if they refused to vacate the venue,” they said.

They were of the view that one lane of the avenue would be vacated from the PAT activists through negotiations without using force.

If the negotiations failed and the attorney general cannot get the avenue vacated with the help of the PAT lawyers, there was the possibility that the SC would issue a contempt of court notice to the PAT, they said. Under such a situation, the interior ministry may decide to get the avenue vacated.

They said an intelligence agency and the police special branch had also suggested that force should not be used against the protesters.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2014