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Despite govt indecisiveness, police prepare for the march

January 11, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Jan 10: The capital police have decided to make security arrangements for Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran’s (TMQ) long march, planned for January 14, 2013, and deploy security at key points, even though the government has yet to give clear directives to the local administration.

Mulling over indecisiveness   

The confusion was prevalent in a meeting, on Thursday, that took place between officials of the interior ministry, capital administration and the police.

One police official privy to the meeting said: “The administration and the police, in case decision is taken to stop the long march, should be directed well before January 14, so that force can be deployed.”

Meanwhile, officials in the police have said that a strategy had been devised by the police for the long march but the government had still to okay it.

According to the strategy, it is proposed that the vehicles of long marchers be stopped in the suburbs of Islamabad - Tarnol, and Sihala. But the plan can only be put into place, after there is an agreement between the government and the TMQ.

Security arrangements

Nevertheless, in the meeting it was decided that the police will go-ahead and establish a control room at PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) building along with an office for the interior minister, equipped with all the communication arrangements.

“The police will not resort to firing on the long marchers, no matter what happens,” said the official, quoting the ‘minutes of the meeting’.

Moreover, the entry points of the Red Zone from Embassy Road will also be blocked with the help of containers, added the official.

Similarly, gates leading to the Presidency, Parliament House and Pak Secretariat will also be sealed, said the police official.

Food and technology

In the meeting Nadra was requested to install CCTV cameras from Zero Point to D-Chowk for assistance of Law Enforcement Agencies. It was also decided that food arrangements for police will be made at the Sports Complex.

Zero tolerance for posters and toilets

On the other hand, officials at the meeting decided to remove posters, banners and any temporary toilets that might have been constructed for the march.

“Arrest the people found involved in pasting of banners and posters and construction of toilets,” were the directives bellowing from the meeting.

Acute shortage of security personnel

On the other hand, police are facing a shortage of police personnel. The capital police needs a strength of 15,000 to 20,000 personnel to deal with the march but only a contingent of 2,500 personnel were available, complained a police official.

The capital police placed a request to Punjab police for a contingent of 5,000 personnel, which was denied as the province is also facing a shortage.

Besides, the capital police also requested the Azad Kashmir Police for 2,500 personnel, KPK Police 3,000 and 8,000 personnel from Rangers and Frontier Constabulary but have not received a reply yet.

An officer of the capital police said that “although we asked for 18,500 personnel from the paramilitary forces and provinces, but chances are slim that we will get the desired number.”

Security for diplomats

A major concern of the security forces is the diplomatic enclave, housing Embassies from around the world.

A security official talking to Dawn said that the diplomatic community had also expressed security concerns with the government.  Besides, the diplomatic community has sought the details of the long march, in case diplomats have to travel or leave the country.

However, the official assured that all the necessary security will be provided to diplomats.

Total of 3,000 security personnel will be deployed around the diplomatic enclave, said the official.