Capital in lockdown for PTI demo

ISLAMABAD: In an apparently extra conscious response to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) call to assemble at the heart of Islamabad, the government blocked all the main entries to and from the capital, and even Rawalpindi.With most of them connecting through GT Road, and Motorway, the federal government seemingly tried its level best to sabotage the peaceful protest by closing all the entry points. Despite all types of blockades, thousands of political workers of PTI thronged at D-chowk, the venue set for the protest. The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) police and other law enforcement agencies made strict security arrangements for the rally. Caravans of PTI workers and supporters from different parts of the country converged at the D-Chowk to attend the protest against the alleged rigging in the last year’s general election. However, a large number of PTI workers were not allowed to enter the city. As per direction of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, no one was allowed to keep weapons, and all exit and entry points of the city except three were seized.A ‘curfew-like situation’ was witnessed in the Diplomatic Enclave where gates number 1, 2, and 3 connecting the Enclave to the capital from central points were blocked, whereas only exit to the residents of the Diplomatic Enclave was given from the gate 5 that opens at Bari Imam.The Enclave’s residents were allowed to enter into the city either from Bari Imam or Murree Road via gate 5 that took not less that 30 to 45 minutes to get into the main city.The Red Zone of the capital was sealed off by placing containers at all the entry and exit points as part of the security arrangements ahead of the rally.The city administration put all government hospitals of the city on high alert to effectively tackle any untoward situation. Up to 5,000 police personnel were deployed as per the security plan. Around 20 CCTV cameras were installed at different points, besides a control-room was set up to monitor activities. Aerial supervision was carried out for participants of the rally, and separate parking areas were specified in the Blue Area. On right and left sides of the Kulsoom Plaza, vehicles were parked, while the motorbikes were parked on both sides of the service road. The vehicles of the party leaders or VIPs were parked at the Embassy Road. On culmination of the rally, the participants used Fazal-e-Haq and NazimUddin roads to leave.Apart from that, walkthrough gates were also installed. Roads leading to Aabpara, including main chowk, Khayaban-e-Soharwardi, G6 Markaz Road, Lal Masjid Road, and roads from all side sectors were closed for traffic, and the travellers had to use alternatives routes and U-turns. According to the ICT administration, additional police personnel were deployed in various areas adjacent to Aabpara chowk, besides two additional checkposts were also set up to avoid any unrest. Mujahid Force was also patrolling in the adjacent areas of Aabpara Chowk along with the security personnel. Security division’s Anti-Terrorist Squad was also on high alert and had been patrolling to ensure security in and around the capital. Commandos, equipped with sophisticated weapons, and wireless sets, were also deployed at all sensitive places. Besides this, sniffer dogs and security personnel in plain clothes were also present at sensitive sites.At some places, clashes erupted between the police and protesters. However, tension was defused after the policemen were pushed back at some places, including the Aabpara main signal chowk, and G6/3. Police officers who were in charge of the security refused to comment.“We are here to maintain law and order. It is true that police and the protesters got into a scuffle at some places. But no one got injured,” a police officer said.  According to the Interior Ministry, security agencies were briefing the interior minister “every minute” about the rally. Nisar expressed satisfaction over the security arrangements in the city. He directed the IGP Islamabad to further strengthen the security.

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