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Govt reluctant to remove protesters

Updated November 14, 2017


Due to closure of Murree Road as a result of the ongoing protest, people are forced to cross a nullah at Faizabad to get to the other side. — Photo by Mohammad Asim
Due to closure of Murree Road as a result of the ongoing protest, people are forced to cross a nullah at Faizabad to get to the other side. — Photo by Mohammad Asim

ISLAMABAD: The government seemed reluctant to take action against the participants of the sit-in at Faizabad Interchange as the residents of the twin cities continued facing hardship due to the road closures for the sixth consecutive day on Monday.

The sit-in staged by Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah and Sunni Tehreek paralysed routine life in the twin cities.

A police officer told Dawn on the condition of anonymity that the police and the capital administration had approached Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal seeking permission to take action for opening of the roads but the minister was reluctant to issue a written order.

He said the request was made as the citizens had been blaming the district administration and the police for their inaction to remove the protesters from the area.

He said Senator Raja Zafarul Haq was holding talks with the leaders of the protesters on Monday night and the police were waiting for its outcome.

On the other hand, Sunni Tehreek spokesman Naeem Raza told Dawn that the sit-in would continue till the resignation of the federal law minister.

The Sunni Tehreek leaders met City Police Officer (CPO) Rawalpindi Israr Ahmed Abbasi but the latter failed to convince them to end the protest.

“We met the CPO to discuss Eid Miladun Nabi. Neither the police asked us to end the protest nor we talked about anything else,” said Mr Raza.

Sheikh Shahzad, a commuter, said it had become impossible for pedestrians to find space to cross roads due to the diversion of traffic to the city areas.

Saeed Ahmed, a commuter at Peshawar Road, said the traffic rush at the Chur Chowk was disturbing the vehicular movements on other roads in the city. He said the city administration should take strict action against those blocking roads for acceptance of their demands.

Meanwhile, traders said they were suffering huge losses because of the blockade of Faizanad Interchange.

“Traders in Faizabad are the highest taxpayers across the province but the government is not heeding towards the solution of their issues,” said Jamil Khaliq, the president of Tiles and Fancy Lights Traders Association Faizabad, at a press conference at the Rawalpindi Press Club.

He said it had become a routine for political and religious parties to block Faizabad Interchange causing losses to the traders.

“Blocking roads by placing containers is being considered as the solution to every problem which is injustice and not in favour of the business community,” he added.

Police officials said religious seminaries and people from different parts of Rawalpindi were supplying food items to the participants of the sit-in. They said vehicles loaded with food items, fruits and drinking water arrived at the area for distribution among the participants of the sit-in.

Due to the sit-in at Faizabad, inter-provincial transporters have shifted to other localities, including I.J. Principal Road, Ninth Avenue, Pirwadhai and Karachi Company.

Besides, loaded trucks going to different parts of the country are using roads in the capital city, including Zero Point Interchange, adding to the clogging of the roads. The other three main roads between Islamabad and Rawalpindi - Ninth Avenue, Kashmir Highway near Gorla Mor and Park Road - remained almost choked.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2017