RAWALPINDI: As the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi gear up to celebrate Pakistan Day on March 23 with a military parade, the government has announced plans to close the airspace above for five hours every day until the penultimate day for rehearsals.
The airspace will remain closed for five hours every day until the day of the parade when the duration of the parade closure will be extended to eight hours.
The airspace is being closed to allow space for combat aircraft to perform their acrobatic displays.
Sources have told Daily Express that in the first phase, the airspace over the twin cities will be closed from 9am to 12pm. During this time combat aircraft will rehearse for the annual March 23 parade.
In the second phase, the airspace will be closed from 2 pm until 4pm.
Sources said that during the parade rehearsal, the Pakistan Air Force’s combat fighter and trainer jets will fly low over Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has already informed all commercial airliners regarding the closure of airspace and the schedule of all commercial flights to and from the federal capital has been altered accordingly.
Meanwhile, security in the federal has been put on high alert in Islamabad to avert any untoward incident ahead of the Pakistan Day parade.
Police sources have said that senior officials of the force along with the district administration have jointly devised a comprehensive security plan to ensure security on the eve of Pakistan Day parade.
As per the initial plan, over 3,000 security personnel of the Islamabad police, as well as Rangers, would perform security duties on March 23 in and around the parade ground.
Sources said that the law enforcement agencies will also install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and conduct aerial surveillance of the city.
The city police have also started combing in the forest areas apart from checking guest houses in the city.
Earlier, Islamabad Police Inspector General of Police (IGP) Aamir Zulfiqar Khan directed all police officers to ensure tight security arrangements for the March 23 parade.
Presiding over a high-level meeting, the IGP issued clear instructions that no gap in security arrangements will be tolerated.
During the meeting, the IGP directed that Intelligence Based Operations (IBOs) should be conducted in areas adjoining the parade ground in particular and the outermost cordon areas apart from searches at hotels, motels, rest houses and seminaries on a daily basis.
In this regard, Security DIG and Operations DIG have already been directed to review the overall security plan for the upcoming event. In this regard, the operations DIG was given clear orders for a strict crackdown against kite flying in the city.
Per IGP Aamir's directions, a security survey has been completed and further efforts are underway to plug any loophole in order to make it foolproof.
Moreover, the Operations DIG was directed to initiate a fresh crackdown against drug peddlers and land mafia.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2019.