Red Zone blocked as govt decides to allow Azadi March | Pakistan Today

Red Zone blocked as govt decides to allow Azadi March

–PMO says PM Imran believes in democratic right to protest

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad police has placed containers to block off the capital city’s NADRA and Serena roundabouts in order to secure the Red Zone, as the government on Wednesday decided to let the anti-government protesters of Azadi March proceed to the capital territory “as long as parameters laid out by courts for lawful protest are not breached”.

Reportedly, the Red Zone will be cordoned off with barbed wire and water cannons will be deployed to block protesters’ entry. All entry and exit points of the city will also be sealed, police officials said, adding that Islamabad residents who plan to join the protest will be restricted to their districts.

A security plan has been devised by authorities, according to which Islamabad will be divided into three layers of security. Police personnel will be deployed in the first zone, Frontier Corps in the second and Rangers in the third.

Earlier in the day, the government decided to let the anti-government march protesters enter Islamabad.

The decision was made after a team delegated to negotiate with the joint opposition’s Rehbar Committee presented its recommendations to the prime minister.

A brief statement issued by the Prime Minister Office (PMO) said: “It was decided that the government, with its firm belief in upholding democratic ideals, would allow the proposed Azadi March, if it takes place within the ambit of law and the Constitution as interpreted in the decisions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Islamabad High Court.”

“The prime minister believes in the democratic right to protest,” a spokesperson for PMO said.

Meanwhile, the committee formed by the prime minister to hold talks with the opposition rejected Rehbar Committee’s demand for the premier’s resignation.

According to sources, the rejection came during a meeting of the government’s committee headed by Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak and comprises of National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, Speaker Punjab Assembly Pervaiz Elahi, Asad Umer, Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood, and Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri.

According to reports, the committee reiterated that the government recognizes the opposition’s right to peaceful protest but a march towards federal capital is inadvisable amid the current situation of the country and the region, adding that the government is serious about resolving issues through dialogue.

It has emerged that the committee has decided to hold a meeting with the joint opposition in addition to a sperate meeting with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif.

“Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani has been tasked to contact PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari,” sources said while Speaker Punjab Assembly Pervaiz Elahi will contact JUI-F Chief Fazal-ur-Rehman who called upon him at his Lahore residence last week.

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