Capital under siege

November 13, 2017

Sunday marked the fifth day of the closure of Islamabad’s key Islamabad Highway due to a sit protest by supporters of two religious parties. The closure of Islamabad highway near Faizabad had resulted in immense misery for the residents of the twin cities. The highway is one of the busiest in Islamabad and thousands of commuters travel via it every day.

The protesters are demanding the sacking of Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid over his alleged role in the now solved issue of changes to the Khatam-e-Nabuwat declaration for electoral candidates. A leading Daily recently reported that one of the clerics addressing the protesters threatened to attack the families of federal ministers if their demands were not met. The threats didn’t end here and the cleric further warned that if their demands are not met railway stations and airports across the country will be occupied. Fearing that the protesters may spread to other parts of the city, the administration of Islamabad has barricaded the city by placing large shipping containers at various key intersections.

How any person or group can be allowed to openly challenge the state right in the heart of the capital by blocking roads and threatening families of government officials is something that is hard to fathom. The government so far has failed miserably in performing its duty, the protesters irrespective of going into legitimacy of their demands have caused immense trouble to the citizens of the twin cities and the government is equally culpable for not settling the issue.

Few days back an eight-month-old child died on his way to the hospital after being stuck in traffic jam created due to the closure of roads by the protesters. Images have also been circulating on social media where even ambulances are being stopped by the protesters. There have also been reports of citizens and law enforcement agencies personnel being physically attacked by the protesters.
The democratic right to protest does not give the protesters the right to incite violence and attack citizens. Government must settle the issue at the earliest to lessen the miseries of residents of twin cities.

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