ISLAMABAD: Unlike previous occasions, citizens on Sunday appeared to accept the security measures put in place in the capital for the visit of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman.
In preparation for the visit, heavy traffic was stopped from entering the city and a number of diversions were announced to ensure that some roads in the capital would remain open.
Pillion riding was also banned by the district administration under section 144 in parts of the city.
A notification issued by Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat, available with Dawn, stated: “In my opinion there are sufficient grounds for proceeding section 144 of CrPC 1898 to prohibit the use of motorcycles for pillion riding to avoid any threat to public peace and tranquility within the revenue/territorial limits of Islamabad district.”
Pillion riding has been banned in the Red Zone, on Murree Road from Faizabad to Bhara Kahu, on the Expressway, in Blue Area and on Kashmir Highway from Zero Point to Dhokri Chowk until Feb 18.
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Manzoor Ahmed, a truck driver who was waiting on G.T. Road, told Dawn that while it was routine for heavy traffic to be blocked during protests or VIP movements, he was not upset by the decision to do so this time.
“I have been hearing that the country is experiencing a severe financial crunch and Saudi Arabia has not only given us loans but also wants to address our financial issues by becoming part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
“I hope that the investments will not only bring [truckers] work, but the price of oil will also be reduced,” he said.
Shahid Nazir, who lives in Islamabad, said he was willing to spend more on a taxi instead of riding pillion on a friend’s motorcycle.
“I do not mind spending more on the cab as I assume the crown prince’s visit will change the fate of the country.
“I have been hearing that Saudi Arabia will invest billions of dollars in Pakistan. I am happy, because the visit will be beneficial for the whole nation,” he said.
He added: “I still remember that two decades ago, I was annoyed during the visit of US President Bill Clinton, when the city was practically divided into two and I was not allowed to cross Faisal Avenue. But today I am ready to sacrifice and cooperate, as our Qibla is in Saudi Arabia.”
Mehmood Ahmed, another citizen, said Saudi Arabia has always supported Pakistan, adding: “I believe it will support us once again and soon we will be able to overcome the financial crisis.”
Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2019