ISLAMABAD: The federal government has prepared a plan under which the police have been given a go ahead to put Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan under house arrest at his Banigala residence after the announcement of the much-hyped long march, sources in the police told Dawn.
The PTI chief will be detained under the Maintainance of Public Order, the sources added.
The PTI chairman has asked the party workers to be ready for his final call for a decisive long march aimed at ousting the present coalition government under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Recently, the PTI supporters and leaders in some districts have pledged under oath that they would render every sacrifice for the ‘real freedom march’.
According to the sources, the government has also prepared a “Plan B” to arrest the PTI chairman before entering Islamabad in case he began his march from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or Punjab. The PTI chief will be arrested at Rawat T-Cross if he tried to enter the capital from the south, they said, adding that the police will be deployed to arrest him in Tarnol, if he tried to march on the capital from the northwest.
Administration to seal Islamabad for one week after announcement of long march
The officials said the police team in charge of Imran Khan’s security would play a crucial role in the arrest of the former premier.
Islamabad to be sealed
At least Rs500 million is likely to be incurred on the security arrangements to counter the PTI march, the capital police said, adding that the expenditure was significantly higher than the Rs140m amount spent in May to contain the PTI rally.
The meeting between police and officials of security and intelligence agencies also decided to seal the capital completely for one week after the date of the long march is announced. The officials said the educational institutions will remain closed and exams will be postponed during the said week.
In a bid to stop the protesters, the administration has arranged at least 1,100 containers to shut off the capital. In the anticipation of the protest, the authorities concerned have decided to place containers on major highways in different localities. The containers will be deployed in Faizabad, GT Road, old motorway toll plaza, New Margalla Road in Sangjani, the Nogazi shrine on Fateh Jang road, Bhadana Kalan, Nogazi Faisal Town, and 26 No chungi.
The government will use helicopters and drones for the first time to shell teargas, the officials said, adding that at least 10 drones were being provided to the capital police in this regard.
Likewise, at least 60,000 teargas shells and 30,000 rubber bullets were also being arranged to counter the long march, the police said, adding that about 25,000 officials and officers from the Sindh police, Rangers, and FC will be deployed to maintain law and order.
The police will also arrest PTI sympathisers once given the green light by the government, they said. The officials of federal, Punjab, and KP governments are also being identified who either have a soft corner for the PTI or may assist the political party in the long march, the police officials added. After the identification, strict disciplinary and departmental action will be initiated against the federal officers, while recommendations for the same would be sent to the provinces.
Islamabad police chief Dr Akbar Nasir Khan, Capital Police Public Relations Branch head Deputy Inspector General of Police Headquarters Awais Ahmed and Police PRO remained unavailable for comments. The PRO said he contacted the top officials but no response was received by the time this story was filed.
Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2022