With Imran Khan’s call to launch rallies in major cities, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers in Karachi took to Sharae Faisal on Saturday leading to a severe traffic congestion.
Sharae Faisal serves as the city’s main artery, connecting the airport to the rest of the city. The rally caused inconvenience for commuters and in particular those who had to reach or leave the airport. There were long queues of vehicles ecoming from the airport as people were stuck for hours on Sharae Faisal and the Expressway, where the traffic was diverted to. The police closed one side of the road at the Baloch Colony Bridge for the traffic coming from the airport and diverted the traffic towards the Expressway from where they accessed different parts of the city.
Karachi traffic police officials said that the Sharae Faisal’s closure for just a few minutes affects the traffic flow in the entire city. The police and the city administration try their best to keep it cleared at any cost but, due to the recent rise in political temperatures in the country, parties have started their rallies on the roads. A few days back, it was the Jamaat-e-Islami’s ‘Million March’ to show solidarity with the Palestinians, disturbing the traffic flow for hours, and now it is the PTI.
Although extra contingents of traffic police were deployed for controlling, diverting and regulating the flow but the volume of the traffic was huge as compared to the relatively narrow alternative routes. Karachi AIG Ghulam Qadir Thebo had earlier said that the police will not let anyone hold their ‘dharna’ on Sharae Faisal. Thebo told The Express Tribune that the PTI head office, Insaf House, was on Sharae Faisal and demonstrators had to use the road to get to the office. “We did not take any action because we did not want to create a Model Town-like situation,” said Thebo.
Police are not happy with the new trend of closing the city’s busiest and most important road and Thebo said that there should be a specified place for organising rallies. “The government should take steps for this and such programmes should be conducted in parks or other specified places where life is not disturbed. Blocking the roads is wrong.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2014.