ISLAMABAD: Movement between the twin cities was halted for several hours on Friday after the capital administration blocked Murree Road with containers to stop Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) from entering the city.
In reaction, members of the group blocked all the interchanges at Faizabad and adjacent roads. They also occupied Faizabad flyover and closed it for the public. As a result, all other roads linking the twin cities were closed due to diversion of traffic.
The TLYR had announced a march towards the embassy of a European country in the capital's Red Zone to stage a protest against publication of blasphemous caricatures in the country, officials from the capital administration and police said. They have demanded discontinuation of diplomatic ties with the country, the Pakistani ambassador to be called back and the country's diplomat to leave Pakistan.
The capital administration and police made preparations to stop them and a well-equipped police contingent, including the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and Anti-Riot Unit (ARU) were deployed in and around Faizabad. Containers were placed at Faizabad and Murree Road, when members of the TLYR started marching towards Islamabad from Rawalpindi.
The group gathered all around the Faizabad Interchange and demanded removal of the blockades. Traffic remained partially paralysed in both cities due to closure of the interchange and its link roads.
Thousands of vehicles were stuck in long queues on Islamabad Highway, Expressway and Murree Road and the situation worsened when people started returning to their houses from offices.
Senior officers of the administration and SP Zubair Ahmed Shaikh approached the group and asked them to leave but they refused. The activists removed a container from the road themselves to move towards the Red Zone.
After negotiations between the TLYR and officials of the administration and police, the group dispersed peacefully. The containers were removed afterwards.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2020