ISLAMABAD: Paying no heed to the Supreme Court’s orders, both the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) have refused to budge from their current roost on Constitution Avenue — the seat of the government and the location of most essential state institutions.

A four-page report, submitted in court by the Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt on Tuesday, stated that neither PTI nor PAT was willing to leave the areas where their demonstrators had camped out and had rejected the possibility of relocating to another spot.

On Monday, a five-judge Supreme Court bench — headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk — had asked PAT counsel Ali Zafar and PTI’s attorney Hamid Khan to sit with the AG and figure out a way to ensure that people could move freely on Constitution Avenue. The court will take up the matter again on Wednesday (today).

Ever since both parties pushed their way into the red zone, judges of the Supreme Court have had to take an extended detour and now enter from the rear of the building, as the main gate was blocked by demonstrators. A number of cases also had to be adjourned because either the counsel or the litigants could not manage to get to court.

The presence of these protesters on the avenue of power has made it almost impossible for people to go to various key government institutions, such as the Supreme Court, Parliament House, the Federal Shariat Court, the Federal Board of Revenue and the Election Commission of Pakistan.

During his meeting with the two counsel, the AG had emphasised the spillover effect these sit-ins were having on other roads in the capital.

This was an impediment to the free movement of people and was a nuisance for families living in the parliament lodges and nearby housing units, the AG’s report deplored.

The AG suggested alternate locations to both political parties, and also mentioned the possibility of them returning to the original spots where they began the sit-ins, even thought that would still interfere with the daily lives of Islamabad residents.

These suggestions, the report said, were rejected by both counsel. PAT’s counsel Ali Zafar said his clients might consider vacating one side of Constitution Avenue, provided their party chief agreed.

PTI’s attorney Hamid Khan did not agree with the AG’s suggestion either, saying the party’s sit-in was centred at Parade Lane, which did not interfere with daily life on Constitution Avenue.

The report also said that the AG had consulted Islamabad Commissioner Jawwad Paul, who suggested the parade ground in Faizabad or the Sports Complex as alternate venues for the sit-ins.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2014


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