ISLAMABAD: Law enforcement officials on Saturday met at Faizabad Bridge, which is expected to become a flashpoint between the police and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) during the upcoming Azadi March.

Both parties would likely try to take control of the Faizabad interchange, an important point between Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The site was also key during the 2017 Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) sit-in.

Officers told Dawn that law enforcement will take additional measures at Faizabad due to its strategic location.

The law enforcement authorities have been discussing the Azadi March for the last few days, and met on Faizabad Bridge on Saturday. Officers said senior officials from both forces visited the bridge to examine the location and prepare a strategy for police deployments and to block the march from moving forward into the capital.

It is possible that the march will try to reach Islamabad via the G.T. Road, they said, and the Rawalpindi and Islamabad police will first try to intercept them in Rawat.

Well-equipped contingents will guard Faizabad if Rawat falls, they said. They will counter the JUI-F’s moves to take the interchange, which is very difficult to regain if lost.

Police from the twin cities, with the help of the concerned departments, have also prepared lists of local JUI-F leaders, workers and activists. These lists have been distributed among police stations with directives to call those listed individuals and seek undertakings from them that they will not participate or support the march.

It has been decided that the Rawalpindi and Islamabad police will approach their district administrations to obtain arrest warrants for party leaders, workers and activists, the officers said. These warrants would be issued under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance to detain the individuals during the march.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019