Fahad Altaf/Umer Tariq
ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: The protesters of Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) rally kept blocking Faizabad Interchange for the second day running on Thursday to press the government into sacking the federal law minister and punish others for their alleged involvement in making changes to Khatam-e-Nabuwat declaration for electoral candidates.
The protesters blocked all the roads leading to Faizabad Interchange by placing any obstacles they could muster such as stones, bricks, branches of trees and even human chains. They also forced the administration to suspend Metro Bus Service between twin cities and private transport service at Faizabad Bus Terminal.
Because of the TLY protesters on Faizabad Interchange, huge traffic jam occurred in different parts of city posing hardships for commuters and pedestrians. Some stick wheedling protestors also scuffled motorists in a bid to send them back. A heavy contingent of police along with Rangers and other law enforcement agencies was deployed to maintain law and order situation but the law enforcers for the most part played the role of silent spectator and did not take any action against the protestors.
The roads blocked by TLY protestors included IJP Road, Islamabad Expressway, Murree Road and service roads. The commuters used alternative routes to reach their destinations. According to a police officer, there are 3200 leaders and protestors staging sit in at Faizabad Interchange.
On the other hand, the leaders of religious party while addressing the protestors urged the government to sack federal law minister Zahid Hamid immediately, warning a march towards Parliament House otherwise.
Peer Afzal Qadri, a religious leader, while addressing to the participants said deadlock would continue with government till the resignation of Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid.
An eight-month-old child died on his way to the hospital after being stuck in traffic due to the rally. The infant’s family was not able to reach the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) because of roadblocks put in place due to the rally. The Islamabad police registered an FIR against TLY leader Khadim Rizvi and other participants of the protest.
Meanwhile, the citizens expressed their deep concern and frustration over the blockade of roads and lack of action by authorities. Residents to twin cities also took to social media to vent out their frustration questioning the government’s ability to deal with a ‘few hundred’ protestors who have become a menace for the residents.
Senior journalist Zahid Hussain wrote on Twitter, ‘Islamabad is virtually under siege with few hundred Mullahas (clerics) blocking all the entry points. Where is the State’s authority?’
Senior journalist and anchorperson Rehman Azhar also posted on Twitter saying, ‘Reaching office in Islamabad has become like getting through a maze. Thank You Ahsan Iqbal’
Journalist Atif Mateen wrote on Twitter, ‘Is Islamabad heading towards another pre-Lal Masjid-like situation. While security czar Ahsan Iqbal left locked Capital at mercy of Labaik Party, how long can government allow them to challenge its writ is the question.’