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TMQ decides not to seek permission for long march

January 12, 2013

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In this Jan 9, 2013, photo, Tahirul Qadri speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Lahore. — Photo by AP

ISLAMABAD, Jan 11: While the Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran (TMQ) has decided against seeking a no objection certificate (NOC) for its Monday’s long march to Islamabad, the government seems to be determined to thwart the plan by banning the entry of marchers into the city.

Extraordinary security measures are being taken in the federal capital for what the government calls ‘protection of people’. As many as 5,000 personnel of the Frontier Constabulary (FC) and 2,000 of Punjab police reached here on Friday, raising the number of law-enforcers being deployed for the event to about 20,000.

Because of the deadlock, a clash between supporters of TMQ chief Dr Tahirul Qadri and security forces cannot be ruled out during the march.

A meeting held at the interior ministry on Friday decided that participants of the rally would be stopped from entering Islamabad because no permission had been given by the administration.

“Since it is obvious that the government will not issue the NOC, we have decided to stage the march without obtaining it,” TMQ’s Islamabad chapter president Ibrar Raza told Dawn.

He said a TMQ team was invited for talks to the deputy commissioner’s office on Friday, but they rejected the invitation due to the government’s “negative” response to the long march plan.

The TMQ leader said three petitions had been filed against the proposed march in superior courts, but all of them had been rejected. “This is a clear massage from the courts that staging long march is a basic right of TMQ. Now we do not need any NOC,” he said.

Mr Raza said a rally of his party workers and supporters would enter Islamabad on Jan 14 at any cost and warned that the government would be responsible for consequences if any attempt was made to stop the rally.

On the other hand, a senior official of the administration said none of the superior courts had ordered them to lift section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code under which no public meeting could be held or procession taken out in the city without special permission.

He said the TMQ had another day on Saturday to get an NOC and if it failed to do so, its rally would be stopped at Islamabad’s entry points.

The official said a decision to thwart the march by the use of force had been taken at the meeting in the interior ministry, which was presided over by an additional secretary.

He said 5,000 personnel of FC, 2,000 of Punjab police and 2,000 Rangers had reached Islamabad to help more than 10,000 police personnel to maintain peace. “More policemen from Punjab will come to Islamabad in 24 hours.”

The Supreme Court on Friday did not take any decision on a petition against the proposed march filed on Tuesday. The petitioner Asad Mahmood argued before the court that the march could create chaos in the country and sought an order to bar the TMQ from staging it.

If Dr Qadri had any reservation over the existing democratic system, he should adopt a constitutional way to record his protest, he said.

MQM DECISION PRAISED: Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has welcomed the MQM decision of not joining the march. He said in a statement that MQM Chief Altaf Hussain had made the decision in the larger interest of the country.

Mr Malik urged Dr Qadri to call off the march, saying human lives were more precious. “I believe that Dr Qadri will positively respond to the request in the larger interest of the country.”