ISLAMABAD: Stranded commuters were left to fend for themselves as the government appeared to be absent from the roads of the capital which saw the Faizabad intersection and many other roads in the capital remain closed on Thursday.
Major arteries remained closed due to a protest by a religious group while public transport network remained shut.
The Faizabad intersection is a major link, not only between the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi but also between Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab since most inter-provincial traffic plys on the Islamabad Expressway and the IJP Road. Both of these roads, as well as Murree Road, have been choked at Faizabad since Wednesday afternoon.
A few hundred supporters of Lahore-based cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi are staging a sit-in at Faizabad, agitating on the issue of Khatam-e-Nabuwat, or belief in the finality of Prophethood. Their main demand is that the government identify and punish those responsible for the recent modification in the Khatm-e-Nabuwat clause, which has since been withdrawn.
To keep the protesters away from the high-security Red Zone, the police have sealed off several roads leading to the Constitution Avenue and the Diplomatic Enclave. Several other roads in Sector G-6 were also closed off with containers.
The measures were also in place owing to the Chehlum processions on Thursday.
The closure of Faizabad has not only led to the suspension of the intra-city public transportation system, it has also shut the major inter-city bus stations located at Faizabad.
The closure led to traffic mayhem on Kashmir Highway, Ninth Avenue, IJP Road and Stadium Road in Rawalpindi. Meanwhile, ICTA said the protesters were not speaking with them. “We do not know what they want or where they want to go,” said an ICTA officer. He added that the protesters were not stopped by the police at Faizabad, rather they had decided to camp at the intersection on their own.
Asked why were they not taking any action against the protesters, the officer said a final decision on how to deal with the protesters was to be made by the interior minister.
On the other hand, Interior Ministry spokesperson Yasir Shakeel did not respond to answers about the government’s efforts to resolve the issue.
The Islamabad Police have chalked out an elaborate security plan for Chehlum processions in the city. Around 2,000 security personnel will be deployed across the city including police, Rangers and personnel of other law enforcement agencies who will patrol and provide security duties. All processions will be completely cordoned off through heavy deployment.
Further, 50 quick response force teams will maintain high vigilance through patrolling. The main procession will start at noon from Imambargah Asnae-Ashri in Sector G-6/2 and will culminate at the same place after passing through various routes. APP
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2017.