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Jittery, confused admin readying to handle Azadi March

RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD (INP) The administrations in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad are readying themselves in a confused and jittery manner to cope with the “Azadi March” of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf on August 14/15th, 2014 as they are still uncertain about the size of the gathering and how to handle it.

District administration in Rawalpindi has taken over hundreds of containers from their owners and parked them near all the entry and exit points, four days ahead of the march that indicates its confusion and desperation. Even entry and exit points between the twin cities have not been spared and additional containers have been parked just a few meters away so as to be placed at a short notice.

People coming from Rawalpindi to Islamabad were already facing immense difficulties due to ongoing construction work for the Metro bus service but on Sunday morning, the traffic police of Islamabad closed the entry point of 9th Avenue. That forced the commuters to turn towards Islamabad to reach their destinations in Islamabad causing heavy traffic rush at Faizabad despite being Sunday.

People interviewed by INP at Faizabad said that these hurdles are uncalled for and in fact creating more problems for the residents now than they would be facing during the uncalled for Azadi March. A businessman of Aabpara, who refused to be named, said they are the worst sufferers as every political party and organisation for the attainment of petty objectives march to Islamabad or hold meeting at Aabpara and as a result shopkeepers avoid visiting the market.

Some of the citizens went to the extent that political marches should be banned constitutionally as these are bring bad name to the country. They said that every political party in Pakistan gives the impression that it has more popularity among the masses but during elections majority of them are rejected. They said holding of long marches has become a tradition in Pakistan which must be brought to an end.

In the federal capital, Sunday gave a deserted look at most of the roads but vast majority of people were seen purchasing grocery for the coming week fearing that in case of violence, all the markets would be closed and they would have to feed the families. A sense of despair was witnessed among majority of the people over the trend of confrontation in Pakistani politics. They said issues should be resolved through negotiations instead of bringing thousands of people from every nook and corner of the country to the capital.

On the other hand, it would be difficult for the PTI to manage the million march at the D Chowk in front of the Parliament as Jinnah Avenue is already closed for traffic because of the Metro bus project. It has been dug at four places including at the Faisal Avenue flyover, Kalsoom Plaza, China Chowk and just before the D Chowk.

Red Zone has also been closed for ordinary traffic and containers deployed to block entry to the diplomatic enclave area.

On the other hand, petrol is still in short supply in the twin cities. There were still queues at PSO stations in Islamabad while some filling stations are still closed due to lack of stock.

While the citizens are readying themselves to go through the hazards of August 14/15, they have requested the governments at the Centre and in Punjab not to place indirect restrictions on their movements as daily wagers, emergency medical cases and similar other people in need of genuine travel would be the sufferers.

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