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ISLAMABAD: The capital administration has offered Parade Ground near Faizabad as the venue for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)’s October 4 rally.

Talking to Dawn, senior police and administration officers on condition of anonymity said the government had categorically refused to allow the PTI to hold its rally at D-Chowk in the Red Zone.

The capital administration and the PTI leaders have held meetings and the last one was held on Wednesday.

“We told them to choose any other venue outside the Red Zone,” said a district administration officer. He said the PTI had yet to come up with a reply about the Parade Ground.

The officer said the capital administration had directions from the authorities concerned to refuse the request of PTI of holding the rally at D-Chowk.

District admin offers Parade Ground near Faizabad but PTI insists on D-Chowk

The officer said there were three to four other options for the venue, including Zero Point, Kashmir Highway adjacent to Aabpara or Constitution Avenue and F-9 Park.

The officer said the capital administration had twice informed Younus Ali Raza, the chief coordinator of the PTI’s procession, that due to the prevailing security conditions, public gatherings and rallies had been banned in the capital. Besides, no political gathering is allowed in the Red Zone.

But so far the PTI has neither requested for any other venue outside the Red Zone nor accepted the offer of the capital administration, he added.

Similarly, Jinnah Avenue will also not be given to the PTI for holding the gathering.

“It is feared that the participants of the procession may damage the multi-billion metro bus project at Jinnah Avenue.”

“We are expecting that in the next meeting with the capital administration, the PTI will choose a venue outside the Red Zone,” he added.

Last year, the PTI and PAT were allowed to hold their sit-ins on Kashmir Highway near Aabpara. But later the two parties moved to the Red Zone after removing the barricades and staged their sit-ins at D-Chowk.

The officer said the local administration did not want a repeat of last year’s incident.

But both the police and administration officers also said it was yet to be decided how to intercept PTI workers and leaders if they tried to enter the Red Zone.

“Obviously, the Red Zone will be sealed by placing containers on the roads leading towards the area and with the deployment of law enforcement agencies.”

When contacted, the head of the PTI media section and central deputy information secretary, Chaudhry Rizwan, said the capital administration during the last meeting verbally offered them a few venues, including Aabpara, Express Chowk and F-9 Park.

“But, except D-Chowk no other venue is acceptable to us. It is our final decision to hold the October 4 rally at D-Chowk.”

“Tomorrow (Tuesday), we will hold a meeting presided over by PTI chairman Imran Khan to finalise the preparations for the gathering. Though the venue for the event will also be discussed, it will not be changed.”

As confusion prevailed about the venue of the procession, PTI workers started rolling up their sleeves to bring as many people as possible to Islamabad on Oct 4.

The party’s Rawalpindi chapter has fixed a target of 400 people for each union council in the four districts - Rawalpindi, Attock, Chakwal and Jhelum. “This time, the party will not provide financial assistance to the local organisers for the transportation of workers to Islamabad,” said a senior party leader.

He said tickets aspirants for the local government elections, MPAs and party ticketholders of 2013 general elections had been assigned the task to bring the workers to the venue.

He said the party held separate meetings with local leaders and aspirants of the local government before Eidul Azha and asked them to show their voters’ strength. He said another meeting of the party would be held at Chaklala Scheme-III on September 30 to review the arrangements for the rally.

However, before this meeting, Imran Khan has invited 14 prominent local leaders and PTI Punjab organiser Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar along with Sarwar Khan, Zahid Kazmi and Fayazul Hasan Chohan to Banigala to give them directives about the mobilisation of the citizens for the rally.

PTI MPA Arif Abbasi told Dawn that the party did not inform him about any decision for the mobilisation of people in his constituency.

“All the decisions were made by the organisers led by former Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar and his new team. You can imagine the mobilisation campaign when the MPA is not taken on board,” he said.

PTI Punjab north former secretary general Zahid Kazmi, who is the organiser of the NA-54, said the party had started mobilising the people.

“The party will not invite MPAs to the rally because being party workers it is their duty to follow the chairman’s decision.”

PTI local leader Fayazul Hassan Chohan said they had made all the arrangements for the October 4 sit-in. “We made the strategy to mobilise the workers and transport them to Islamabad. We will remain peaceful if the government did not stop us to stage the sit-in,” he said.

Published in Dawn September 29th, 2015

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