The City District Government of Lahore (CDGL) has declared the historical Nasir Bagh as the designated place for protests and political rallies, keeping in view the permanent traffic gridlock at the Mall Road and adjacent arteries.
Moreover, section-144 has also been imposed on arranging political processions in the newly constructed Greater Iqbal Park. Both the notifications were issued by the District Coordination Officer (DCO) Lahore and it was stated that an application must be moved ten days before holding of any event at Nasir Bagh. “In case of an event involving a gathering of more than 50 people, approval will subject to clearance from Lahore police, traffic police and intelligence agencies,” the notification reads.
The authorities have placed a ban on political activities in Greater Iqbal Park because of a threat to its beautification, as it is the only thematic park of the country having glimpses of Pakistan’s history and independence movement. Spreading on an area of over 127 acres, the Greater Iqbal Park will depict the history and architecture of all the provinces, including Gilgit-Baltistan. Furthermore, the park will have dancing fountains, buggy ride and soft wheel train ride for the visitors; therefore, authorities cannot take any risk of allowing political gatherings here.
In the past, it has been observed on many occasions that the beautification of Minar-e-Pakistan ground was badly affected after holding political gatherings there, and the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) had issued notices to the political parties as well because of damages done to the ground.
The holding of protests, sit-ins and political rallies on the Mall Road had become a routine practice in the last few years causing severe traffic jams on the adjoining arteries as well. Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif had also taken a strict notice of perennial traffic jam on the Mall Road when young doctors were staging a sit-in on the Mall Road earlier this month, and the citizens of Lahore were also demanding for an alternative policy for the commuters.
Severe traffic jams had become a special feature of Mall Road because of protests by doctors, students, nurses, lawyers, farmers and others. The traders and businessmen of Mall Road had demanded action against the protesters from the government, as their business activities were adversely affected by such protests. They had also approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the protests and the court gave directions to the district administration to craft a policy in order to avoid protests on the Mall.
The CDGL has done its job by issuing a notification of Nasir Bagh as a designated place for the protest and rallies; now it will be the responsibility of police department to ensure the directions.
The spokesperson for DIG Operations Syed Hammad Raza told this scribe that the police will ensure in letter and spirit to not let anyone hold rallies or sit-ins on the Mall Road. “A stern action will be taken by the police against the violators of this notification,” he said.