The government is set to announce its ‘amended’ plan for Independence Day celebrations today (Thursday).
The cabinet panel, constituted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to finalise the plan, will make it public through a news conference.
The committee, led by Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique includes Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural resources Jam Kamal Khan, and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Irfan Siddiqui.
Talking to The Express Tribune on Wednesday, the information minister confirmed that the committee will meet today (Thursday), following which Saad Rafique will announce the plan for the celebrations at a news conference.
When asked, Rashid ruled out the possibility of showdown with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which plans to conduct a protest rally at D-Chowk – the venue for the Independence Day celebrations – on August 14.
“The official ceremony in the federal capital will be held in the morning… PTI’s march is scheduled to reach the venue sometime in the evening or late in the night,” he said, adding that the media was unnecessarily connecting the two planned events.
Earlier, the government said it would conduct the outdoor Independence Day ceremony with a military parade at D-Chowk. Located a few hundred meters from the Parliament House, the venue had been used for official ceremonies, such as the Independence Day and March 23 military parades, till a decade ago. These functions were stopped due to security threats.
The PML-N government had recently vowed to revive these functions, saying they are more important than any other political rally. This had led to speculations that the government was gearing up for a confrontation with PTI protesters and others.
Now it seems the government has changed its earlier plan and may go for a limited function on August 14. However, it will invite leaders of all political parties to the ceremony, including those who have announced protests against the government after Eidul Fitr.
The government has also announced its intention to hold country-wide ceremonies from August 1 to August 30, dedicated to those martyred in the fight against terrorism.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2014.
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