• Imran’s helicopter to land at arid agriculture varsity
• Capital administration considering cancelling NOC issued for use of routes by rally participants
RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Friday got permission for its public gathering in the garrison city but changed the venue from Faizabad to Rehmanabad on Murree Road. Besides, the party’s chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan’s helicopter will land at Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University after the Islamabad administration refused to allow him to land at Parade Ground.
On the other hand, the capital administration was considering cancelling the NOC granted to the party for participants to use various routes in Islamabad to reach the public gathering in the garrison city.
Deputy Commissioner Rawalpindi Shoaib Ali told Dawn that the administration had given permission to the PTI to hold the public meeting at Rehmanabad and requested it to ensure implementation of the conditions set for the event.
He said the party leaders had been asked to hold the political show and disperse peacefully and expressed the hope that the political gathering would be for a day and there would be no sit-in.
He said security arrangements for the former premier had been made as per the standard operating procedure laid out by the Punjab government.
Shoaib Ali said security and other arrangements for cricket matches which would start on Dec 1 had also been finalised at the cricket stadium. The administration and law enforcement agencies would facilitate the participants and the PCB in this regard, he added.
Talking to Dawn, PTI district president Wasiq Qayyum Abbasi said the venue of the public gathering had been changed from Faizabad to Rehmanabad due to security concerns.
“The stage has been set up at Rehmanabad and the timing for the public meeting would remain unchanged. PTI workers and supporters have been informed about the change of the venue,” Mr Abbasi said.
He said workers’ mobilisation had been started in different parts of the city and it would be a historical gathering in the garrison city.
Talking about landing of the helicopter, he said the Islamabad administration did not allow the PTI chief’s helicopter to land at Parade Ground after which the party made arrangements at Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University at Shamsabad.
He said other party leaders would arrive at the venue along with rallies from other parts of the country.
Answering a query about sit-in, he said perhaps it would be a one-day show but if the PTI chief gave a call the workers and supporters of the party would stage a sit-in. He said the party would not create any hurdle for the movement of the cricket team to and from the stadium.
On the other hand, the Rawalpindi administration issued a 56-point permit for the PTI to hold the public gathering through a notification. The notification stated that the UK cricket team would soon arrive in Rawalpindi, therefore, the venue should be completely vacated after the rally was over.
In the notification, orders were issued to the Rawalpindi police to take all necessary security measures for the rally.
It clarified that the PTI chairman could only use the route decided by the PTI, district administration and security agencies. Moreover, Imran Khan has been barred from using a car with a sunroof before and after the rally.
According to the permit, Allama Iqbal Park cannot be used for the stay of the party workers and should be completely vacated after the procession. Full implementation of the traffic plan by the police was also emphasised. Moreover, anti-state sloganeering and use of drone cameras were prohibited.
The notification stated that the organisers of the rally would be held responsible in case of any untoward incident or loss of life. Legal action would be taken for violating the terms and conditions.
Meanwhile, PTI leaders criticised the Islamabad administration but were silent about the restricted permission issued for the public gathering by the district administration of Rawalpindi.
PTI leader Sadaqaat Abbasi told Dawn that the venue had been shifted from Faizabad which was in the vicinity of the army’s Hamza camp. However, he said people would attend the gathering in large numbers.
When asked why the district administration under the control of the PTI-led Punjab government had given the party a conditional permission, he said due to security concerns the administration and police had to issue such directives.
Use of routes in Islamabad
The Islamabad administration is considering cancelling the conditional NOC issued to the PTI for using routes in the capital to reach the public gathering in Rawalpindi as the chairman had failed to fulfill the main condition.
The capital administration issued the NOC the other day stating: “The permission for holding of rally is conditionally being granted on following proposed routes subject to thirty-six terms and conditions (to be signed by the chairman of the party on a separate stamp paper and submitted by 25-11-2022 in the office of the undersigned. Else, this permission will automatically be cancelled).”
Senior officers of the capital administration told Dawn that so far the condition of signing the terms and condition in a separate stamp paper by the PTI chairman had not been fulfilled.
As mentioned in the NOC, the permission will automatically be cancelled, they said, adding that however, directives on the matter were awaited from quarters concerned.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday submitted a copy of the NOC with a handwritten note saying, “landing of the helicopter at Parade Ground access to the venue for Chairman PTI is absolutely wanted for security reasons.”
Mr Qureshi signed the copy on behalf of the PTI chairman. However, the capital administration did not accept it as it was not on a stamp paper. Besides, acceptance of terms and condition was also not mentioned on it, the officers added.
Meanwhile, the capital police said it would shut down the Faizabad bus terminal at 10pm on Friday till the conclusion of the PTI’s public gathering. The police said the step was taken for the security purpose.
Combing and checking of hotels and residential areas in and around Faizabad was also being conducted, the police said. Besides, Murree Road from Rawalpindi was sealed.
Traffic will also be closed from I.J. Principal Road-9th Avenue junction towards Rawalpindi.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2022