ISLAMABAD: The capital administration on Thursday refused to give permission to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to use the Shakarparian Parade Ground as a heliport, but allowed its participants to use various routes within the capital’s limits to reach the venue of the public gathering in Rawalpindi.
The permission has been granted on the condition that party chairman Imran Khan would submit an affidavit that the activists would strictly follow the routes and would not make any attempt to enter the capital city.
On the other hand, sources said the Rawalpindi administration had offered the PTI to use one of the grounds of Barani University at Shamsabad as helipad for the landing of the helicopter of party chairman Imran Khan, besides suggesting the party leadership to hold the planned public gathering on Saturday (tomorrow) at Chandni Chowk Flyover, instead of Faizabad Intersection.
The deputy commissioner Islamabad through a communication informed president of the PTI’s Islamabad chapter Ali Nawaz Awan that the administration could not allow the party to use Parade Ground as a helipad, since it is located in a highly sensitive area. “In view of above, the request of the helicopter landing and taking off at Parade Ground, Islamabad is hereby regretted,” it added.
Party leadership asked to organise sit-in at Chandni Chowk, instead of Faizabad
The PTI leadership had also approached the army General Headquarters (GHQ) for the permission since the Parade Ground is used by the military forces for their annual parade on the Pakistan Day, but a representative of the GHQ through a letter asked the PTI leadership to seek the permission from the Capital Development Authority (CDA)/federal government as place was under their jurisdiction.
The permission for holding of rallies on the proposed routes had been granted by the capital administration with 36 terms and conditions to be signed by the party chairman. It is clearly mentioned in the NOC (no objection certificate) that the permission would automatically be cancelled, if the affidavit was not submitted by the party by Friday (today).
The participants of the march coming from northern parts of the country, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through GT Road, M-1 and M-2, will reach Chungi No 26 from where they will move on Peshawar Road towards Rawalpindi and take I.J.P Road from where using Saidpur Road they will reach Murree Road.
The participants coming from Punjab via G.T Raod, T-Cross Rawat will be allowed to use Islamabad Expressway till Koral interchange from where they will take old Airport Road and Rawal Road to reach the venue, the permission letter stated, adding that the participants coming from the eastern side, including Murree, will be allowed to use Murree Road via Bhara Kahu till Rawal Chowk from where they will take Park Road till Tramri Road and Lehtrar Road and Expressway to reach Koral interchange, then old Airport Road to use Murree Road.
It says that as section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is imposed on gathering of persons in the capital, including Red Zone, on Nov 23, the permission granted to the organisers will be an exception (one time only) and it will only be valid for the mentioned routes, it said, adding that every type of gathering/rally in any other place will be an illegal assembly and action will be taken against the organisers in case of any violation.
In case of any untoward/unfortunate incident, this permission will be considered withdrawn itself and the organiser will be held responsible directly and vicariously, it said, adding that it will be the responsibility of the organiser to ensure that no blockage of roads takes place for international cricket teams arriving in Islamabad on Nov 26.
The terms and conditions of the permission include that the rally/gathering shall not disturb rights of citizens, clear right of way for rescue vehicles and participants shall not enter any restricted area or obstruct public/private thoroughfare during the rally, no damage shall be caused to public and private property, no lethal or no-lethal object force including batons would be wielded by participants.
Any comments that are anti-state, anti-religion or anti-Pakistan shall not be made by the speakers or the participants, it added.
The Rawalpindi district administration had asked the PTI to change the venue of its planned sit-in from Faizabad to some other place in the city, including Liaquat Bagh or Chandni Chowk to avoid any problem to the visiting English cricket team which will carry out practice sessions at Rawalpindi cricket stadium from Nov 28.
A number of private educational institutions in Rawalpindi have already announced holidays on Friday and Saturday without waiting for the official announcement by the government.
Freedom of movement of residents will be restricted due to closure of Rawalpindi’s main Murree Road and its arteries on Saturday.
The Rawalpindi district police and city traffic police have chalked out separate security plans with deployment of thousands of police and 750 traffic police personnel setting up traffic diversions to facilitate the public.
Meanwhile, The former prime minister may use the helicopter of KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan or the motorcade of Punjab Chief Minister Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi to reach the venue of the public gathering at Faizabad in Rawalpindi on Saturday (tomorrow).
A leader of the PTI, wishing not to be quoted, said: “The venue of the long march/public meeting is on Murree Road, just adjacent to Faizabad. Now we have been left with two options that Mr Khan can arrive in the helicopter of either KP or Punjab chief minister. Both the provincial governments are in consultation with the federal government to get approval for landing the helicopter at Parade Ground. If permission is granted, Mr Khan will arrive along with them,” he said.
He said if permission was not granted, Mr Khan may come along with the Punjab chief minister but his helicopter may land at PAF Base Nur Khan and Mr Khan will have to use the CM’s motorcade from there. — Ikram Junaidi also contributed to the story
Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2022