ISLAMABAD: Despite an extensive CCTV camera network in place in Islamabad, unidentified men were able to put up an Islamic State (Daesh) flag on a major thoroughfare of the city on Sunday.
The flag, put up on a billboard at a pedestrian bridge on Islamabad Expressway near Iqbal Town, was taken down by police at around 12pm.
A passer-by spotted the flag and informed the Khanna police about it. In his statement, he told the police that he was familiar with the flag as he had seen it on TV.
It was a standard flag of the terrorist organisation, the only addition being that the slogan “Khilafat is coming” was inscribed on it.
Interior Minister Ahsan has taken notice of the incident and sought a report from the capital’s police chief.
The police are trying to nab the people who put up the flag with the help of CCTV footage.
Islamabad has a “Safe City Project” in place that cost the national exchequer $125 million or over Rs13 billion.
Under the project, over 1,900 surveillance cameras have been installed across the city with a command and control centre set up in Sector H-11 to monitor important buildings, entry and exit points, roads, commercial centres and a sizable portion of residential areas.
However, a Safe City Project official told The Express Tribune that it was unlikely that their cameras would have caught the culprits in the act.
“That area [where the flag was found] doesn’t fall within our domain, but we do have cameras installed there,” he added.
“But our cameras are installed at such an angle that they only focus on the traffic. It’s unlikely that the people who put up the flag would be visible in the footage.”
An officer told The Express Tribune though they were clueless as to who put up the flag, a case under the anti-terror law was being registered against unidentified persons. He said the case would be registered under Section 11-G of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which prohibits display of any article, symbol, flag or banner associated with any proscribed organisation. A suspect under this section can be sentenced to imprisonment or fine or both through summary procedure.
Islamabad Police are clueless who put up the IS flag. The officials checked security cameras installed nearby but nothing was spotted in them. SHO Khanna Police Station inspector Sattar Shah said police had found no lead to whoever put up the flag. He said one camera installed nearby was dysfunctional.
Though the police had announced to registered a case against unknown person under anti-terror law, no FIR had been registered when this report was filed Sunday evening. “No decision regarding the FIR has been made yet,” said the SHO. SP (Rural) Mustafa Tanveer also said that the police had found nothing so far.
Maulana Abdul Aziz, a cleric of Lal Masjid, a mosque located in the heart of Islamabad, has repeatedly stated that he “respected” IS because of the similarity in their missions and had no repentance over supporting it.
In an earlier interview with The Express Tribune, Aziz had said though they had no direct link with the leadership of the IS, they had deliberated on the issue and decided to promote the mission and message of Daesh.
Commenting on a video released by the students of Jamia Hafsa, a seminary for women affiliated with the Lal Masjid, declaring their support for IS and its chief Abu Bakar al Baghdadi, the cleric said the students had prepared the video with his consent and they did not commit a crime by doing so.
Aziz revealed that the female students of his seminary announced their support for IS only after losing hope in the country’s political elite which remained silent when they had to suffer in the wake of the military operation against Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa in 2007.
A petition was filed with the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to register a criminal case against Aziz and some female students of Jamia Hafsa for pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group.
It was contended that some students of Jamia Hafsa had pledged allegiance to the Middle Eastern ultra extremist outfit in a video released on social media. The students had also invited Daesh to maim and kill Pakistani soldiers and civilians by chopping off their hands, beheading them, and tearing apart their bodies to take revenge for the 2007 Lal Masjid Operation and for killing Osama Bin Laden.
However, the IHC had dismissed the petition last year.