ISLAMABAD: The interior ministry on Saturday extended the capital’s Red Zone area up to Faisal Avenue from Attaturk Avenue to protect key installations against any threat in view the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) long march scheduled to reach the federal capital on Nov 4.

The ministry also banned gatherings and rallies inside the relevant areas, sources said, adding that Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) had been imposed in the Red Zone.

They said the component areas of Red Zone would now stretch from Ataturk Avenue to Faisal Avenue, Khayaban-i-Iqbal to Margalla Road and Serena Chowk to Zero Point.

Earlier, the Red Zone would comprise areas west of the intersection of Third Avenue and Murree Road, including China embassy; south of University Road up to the Fourth Avenue; south of Khayaban-i-Iqbal from Fourth Avenue up to Ataturk Avenue; east of Ataturk Avenue up to Jinnah Avenue; east of Embassy Road up to Khayaban-i-Suhrawardi; north of Dhokri Chwok (Convention Centre Chowk on Srinagar Highway up to intersection of Murree Road and Third Avenue).

Step taken to protect key installations; police warn traders against dealing with long marchers

In October 2012, the then interior minister had decided to extend the Red Zone from Ataturk Avenue 5 to Ataturk Avenue 6 as part of precautionary measures against threats to the installations located in the important area, the sources said. However, later the decision could not be implemented when some departments, including police, showed their reservations, they added.

The Red Zone was earlier located in the limits of Secretariat police station and after the extension it now includes areas in the jurisdiction of Kohsar Model Sub-Division and Aabpara police station, the sources said. They said following the zone’s expansion the responsibility of security would be shared by three station house officers and two sub-divisional police officers.

Meanwhile, the capital police on Saturday ‘threatened’ the business community of Islamabad to avoid dealing with the PTI leaders in connection with the long march, Dawn has learnt.

Some police officials, on condition of anonymity, said senior officers used the station house officers (SHOs) to issue the warning about strict legal action to the business community.

The sources said owners of hotels, guest houses, inns as well as catering and rent-a-car services had been warned not to provide services to the PTI during the long march. They said the police would keep checking them to implement the orders.

The officials said guest houses, hotels, inns, showrooms and kitchens would be inspected daily till the conclusion of the long march and legal action would be taken against those showing resistance.

However, the sources said while issuing such a warning the SHOs did not tell the businessmen under which law they would take action as they could not do so without imposing Section 144 with regard to doing business with PTI during the long march.

When contacted for comments over the issue repeatedly, the police spokesperson said he had referred the matter to a senior officer and the response was awaited.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2022

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