Islamabad, Rawalpindi gear up for another political clash

Published May 25, 2022
Shipping containers used to block the area leading towards the Red Zone are seen ahead of the planned protest march by ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Islamabad, on Tuesday. — Reuters
Shipping containers used to block the area leading towards the Red Zone are seen ahead of the planned protest march by ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Islamabad, on Tuesday. — Reuters

ISLAMABAD: The twin cities have once again become a political flashpoint as the government takes all measures to prevent the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) long march from reaching the capital on Wednesday (today).

So much so even foreign diplomats have raised concerns over their security under the prevailing situation.

Talking to Dawn, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Tahir Farooq confirmed that 86 prominent PTI workers had been arrested under section 3 of the MPO, but no prominent leader of the party had been arrested in the last two days.

The DC said the administration was using all available resources to avoid any law and order situation.

On the other hand, due to closure of main roads, there was a likelihood of fuel shortage. “As all main roads and bridges connecting the district with other parts of the country are closed with containers, the supply of petrol and diesel to Rawalpindi has been stopped,” said a spokesman for All Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association Noman Butt.

However, he said, there was enough stock in the district but problems would start in case the roads remained closed for more than two days. He said Pakistan State Oil continued supply uninterrupted.

Meanwhile, officers of the capital police told Dawn on condition of anonymity that a delegation comprising security advisers of 34 embassies and high commissions in the Diplomatic Enclave, met senior officers of the police Security Division and expressed their concerns over their security.

They were briefed about the measures taken by the police on the direction of the interior ministry, including in the Red Zone housing the Diplomatic Enclave. There are only two gates opened for entry and one for exit from the area.

Police and paramilitary troops were being deployed at all gates while anti-riot units would be manning inside the enclave and the Red Zone, the officers said, adding that fire engines and ambulances were also put on standby in the area.

The diplomatic community also raised concerns over an alert issued to them besides the road blockades and closures and asked the police to inform them before taking such steps. Some of the security advisers of the foreign missions were found unsatisfied with the present security measures and asked the police to strengthen it further. The diplomats were asked to avoid unnecessary movement in the city and not to leave the enclave, the officers said.

They were also informed that M-1 and M-2 as well as roads from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be closed.

Deployment was being made and road were to be closed at Tarnol, G-9, Faizabad, Islamabad Expressway, Zero Point, Banigala, Bhara Kahu, Pir Sohawa Road, Rawat, Dhokri Chowk and Park Road.

The security advisers of some foreign missions located outside the Red Zone also expressed their concerns and asked the Security Division for a meeting but so far they have not been given a proper response, the officers added.

Threat alert issued

The threat assessment committee of the interior ministry met again to assess the threats to former prime minister Imran Khan, the officers said. They said an alert was issued stating that outlawed Hezb-i-Islami in connivance with an international outfit was planning an attack in the capital.

The PTI chairman was informed about the alert with a request to call off his long march, they added.

In another move, the police requested the capital administration to increase the number of magistrates deployed with them at the main and blockade points. The capital has a district magistrate, six assistant commissioners and 22 magistrates, including special magistrates.

The police also approached all rescue departments and welfare organisations and asked them to arrange as many ambulances, paramedical staff and fire engines as possible to put them so that they would be deployed at the main and closure points.

Section 144 has also been imposed in the district and two control rooms established at the Civil Defence offices to coordinate with all four districts of the division - Rawalpindi, Attock, Chakwal and Jhelum.

Keeping in view the prevailing situation, the metro bus service between Rawalpindi and Islamabad from Saddar to Pakistan Secretariat has been suspended for two days.

The district administration of Rawalpindi has sought six companies and the Attock administration 20 companies of Rangers.

A senior official said the demand from both districts had been forwarded to the interior ministry, adding that each company of the Rangers would comprise 150 personnel.

A senior official of the district administration told Dawn that most of the detained people belonged to the second and third-tier leadership of the PTI while the first-tier leadership at the local level had gone into hiding to avoid arrest.

Meanwhile, sources said a list of over 160 PTI leaders in Taxila, Wah and Attock had been handed over to the police for their arrest.

The list has been forwarded to relevant police stations by the CPO office and respective subdivisional police officers have been told to monitor the crackdown.

Police have raided the houses of other PTI key leaders in Attock, however, they were not able to arrest any of them. Police raided the house of retired Maj Tahir Sadiq, PTI’s member of National Assembly from Attock, but he skipped the arrest. Similarly around four local PTI die-hard workers including former vice chairman cantonment board Taxila Syed Raza Shah was arrested and shifted to police station.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2022

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