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A new Islamabad ‘zone’

March 30, 2013

THE town planner who designed the Islamabad master plan divided the area included in the plan into different zones. These zones are distinguished from one another primarily by the use to which a given area can be utilised.

Thus there are residential zones, commercial zones, industrial zones and zones where no residential, commercial or industrial activity is permitted.

Over the years the CDA, with the connivance of political administrations, both military and civilian, has played havoc with the Islamabad master plan.

I want to draw the attention of the authorities concerned to another very special zone that the powers that be have managed to create in Islamabad in the last several years.

It neither has any legality nor was it envisaged in the master plan of Islamabad. What I have in mind is the informal but an exclusive zone comprising E-8 and E-9 sectors of Islamabad that have been established by Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force in the last several years.

Citizens not serving in the armed forces are not allowed entry in this zone as a matter of routine. Until one year ago common citizens would be allowed entry in this zone from the designated entry points after depositing their CNICs, which they could retrieve at the time of exiting the zone.

For the last about one year this so-called ‘facility’ has been withdrawn because, according to the authorities, common citizens do not deserve this.

The above ‘zone’ has been created in the name of security. Preventing common citizens from entering this zone is tantamount to abridging their right of free movement which has been guaranteed by the constitution. Furthermore, this adds to the alienation between the armed forces and common citizens.

I recall the spirit of genuine camaraderie that existed between the people and the armed forces until the mid-1960s. Unfortunately, since the early 1970s camaraderie of the 1960s began to be replaced by a feeling of alienation. This is not the place to go into the whys and wherefores of this transformation in the perception of the public.

However, suffice it to say that measures like creating exclusive areas for the armed forces where common people are denied access alienate people from the armed forces. This is particularly so when the overall security situation of the country is far from ideal.