LAHORE: Pakistan’s federal capital is on alert as anti-government
demonstrators belonging to Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam (JUI-F) and other opposition
parties march toward the city with the stated objective of toppling the
Authorities have sealed off diplomatic enclave, placing shipping containers in different parts of the city to block main thoroughfares and entrance routes to manage the incoming protestors who are likely to arrive in Islamabad today.
The country’s interior ministry held a meeting here on Wednesday to discuss the protest rally and devise a strategy to deal with it.
The official gathering, which brought together representatives of various
law enforcement agencies and security forces, decided to use the police as the
first line of defense while adding that it would get requisite support from the
Rangers, if required.
The meeting also made it clear that the city’s Red Zone that houses Diplomatic Enclave and various government installations would constitute a no-go area for the protestors.
The Islamabad Traffic Police also released route maps for the residents of the federal capital, hoping to make it somewhat convenient for them to move around the heavily barricaded city.
Earlier in the day, JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman addressed a big gathering in Pakistan’s second largest city, Lahore, before resuming his march to Islamabad.
Rehman claimed every Pakistani was concerned about the government’s
policies, adding that doctors, traders and teachers were out on the streets to
protest against the current administration. He continued that people were
suffering due to enduring price hikes, adding that Pakistan’s economic graph
had nose-dived and its financial situation looked bleak.
“It is not a protest, it is not a march, and it is not a sit-in,” he said while explaining the anti-government agitation. “It is a movement: A movement for the rights of the masses and to get rid of the IMF [International Monetary Fund] agents … Every Pakistani supports this movement.” “Azadi [freedom] March is the voice of every oppressed soul in Pakistan,” he continued.