The administrative authorities of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Thursday reportedly convened a high-level meeting, chaired by Islamabad Chief Commissioner Zulfiqar Haider, to devise a strategy to disperse Faizabad protesters, DawnNews reported.
According to sources, the authorities agreed on blocking the roads leading to Faizabad in order to discourage more people from joining the sit-in.
Following the directives, additional barriers were placed on the already blocked Murree Road.
Moreover, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) was instructed to switch off street lights on the Faizabad bridge along with lights along the route from I-8 Chowk to Sohan Chowk. However, it was later decided that street lights in sector I-8 and nearby residential areas will not be turned off, it was decided.
In order to minimise inconvenience caused to commuters, Metro Bus Service will be restored and Islamabad Expressway will be provided as an alternate route.
Meanwhile, extra contingents of law enforcement personnel have been deployed near Faizabad and all concerned departments have been instructed to “stay alert” during the night.
Courts order immediate end to protests
The government is under mounting pressure to end the Faizabad protest. The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday initiated contempt proceedings against top officials of the Islamabad administration by issuing them show-cause notices.
The Supreme Court too, expressed dissatisfaction at the reports submitted by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) with regards to the Faizabad sit-in in the federal capital, which has now entered its third week.
In his report, the attorney general told the court that the government was being cautious because there was a risk of confrontation if action is taken against the protesters, as some of them are also armed.
Replying to the attorney general’s remarks, Justice Alam said, “Tomorrow, if an enemy of the state chooses to occupy the streets of the capital, will the government try to negotiate with them?”
Trying to clarify the government’s position, the attorney general said that the government had sent the SC’s order regarding dispersing the participants to the leaders of the protest.
Angered by this reply, Justice Alam said, “What do you mean, will the protesters now decide if the sit-in will end or not?”
Capital brought to a halt
Daily life in the capital has been disrupted by protesters belonging to religious parties — including the Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) and the Sunni Tehreek Pakistan (ST) — who are calling for the sacking of Law Minister Zahid Hamid and strict action against those behind the amendment to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath in the Elections Act 2017.
The amendment had earlier been deemed a ‘clerical error’ and has already been rectified.
The protesters had occupied the Faizabad Bridge which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad through the Islamabad Expressway and Murree Road, both of which are the busiest roads in the twin cities. The IHC deadline for the government to remove the protesters expires today.
The government on Monday had scrambled to secure the support of religious leaders and ulema from across the political spectrum in a bid to negotiate a peaceful end to the sit-in.
However, a meeting between representatives of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah and government ministers held at Punjab House was unable to make any breakthrough, as the protesters refused to budge from their demand for the law minister’s resignation.