Islamabad on tenterhooks

* Dr Qadri lands today * Nawaz, Shahbaz mull counter-plan g Rallies banned, Section 144 imposed g Terror threat alert against Qadri

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad was on Sunday preparing for the imminent arrival of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leader Tahirul Qadri, with the implementation of Section 144 at and around the airport, which includes ban on rallies and processions.Meanwhile, thousands of policemen have been deployed in the city with strict orders to be as calm and restrained as possible. The Islamabad international airport was the main target, both for the government functionaries and supporters of PAT on Sunday where Qadri will land early morning today (Monday). The supporters of PAT have only one goal in mind, to reach the airport where their leader will arrive from London via Dubai. The government has issued security threat warnings and warned that terrorists might strike in the twin cities on the occasion. The Benazir Bhutto International Airport looked like a garrison on Sunday, as the government put in place extra security measures, including more barricades, to prevent Qadri’s workers from reaching the airport to receive him. In addition to banning rallies and processions in the capital, the government imposed Section 144 in Rawalpindi, prohibiting the gathering of more than four persons. According to Rawalpindi Public Relations Director Fahim Mumtaz, the DCO has issued an order for complete ban on gathering of four or more than four people, holding rallies, holding protests or public meetings, besides pillion riding and carrying of flags or banners in the jurisdiction of the airport police station. There is also a complete ban on exhibition of firearms.Although the government has denied arrest of any worker of PAT, the party’s leaders claimed that several leaders and workers were detained by the authorities under Section 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) ordinance. Rawalpindi District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sajid Zafar Dal imposed Section 144 in the city. “Section 144 will remain effective in the city from 12 noon Sunday till 12 noon on Tuesday,” a handout issued from the DCO’s office maintained. It states that the steps were being taken not to stop the arrival of PAT chief but to protect him and his party’s activists due to the threats of an imminent terrorist attack in the city. Containers were set up at all the entry and exit points of the city where vehicles were being checked by security forces, and people suspected of being rally participants were being stopped from moving ahead.The Airport Security Force personnel, police, Elite Force and Rangers personnel were deployed at the Islamabad airport. Camping near the airport and its surroundings has been banned. To restrict entry to the premises of the airport, the Civil Aviation Authority cancelled the special passes for visitors to the airport. Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the wake of Qadri’s imminent arrival in Pakistan. According to media reports, the meeting was held in their Raiwind residence in which the two leaders discussed the current and post-Model Town tragedy scenario. The Sharif brothers also discussed Qadri’s arrival in the country and its possible effects. Nawaz also inquired about investigation of the Model Town incident, reports added. 

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