The arrangements by the police in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been geared up as the banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has decided a ‘peaceful’ long march- ‘that can thwart’ hurdles, on the capital on Friday.
Announcing the long march on Islamabad a day earlier, TLP leader Pir Ajmal Qadri said that the “peaceful” procession would begin after Friday prayers. “If any hurdles are created, the party also has a Plan B to thwart any official attempts.”
In what appears to be a change of heart, the group delinked the march from the release of its incarcerated leader, Saad Hussain Rizvi, and said the purpose of the move was “respect for the Holy Prophet (PBUH)”.
He advised the workers to continue the mission of the group’s founder, the late Khadim Hussain Rizvi, even if “we are martyred in the march”, and asked the government to implement the agreement — a reference to the accord reached with the TLP last November to sever diplomatic and economic ties with France.
“The government better implement the agreement in true spirit or get ready to face the consequences,” Qadri warned.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Islamabad Traffic Police said traffic was diverted from Rawalpindi’s System Road and Ninth Avenue and advised residents who wanted to go to Pindi via the Faizabad Interchange — which has been blocked during TLP protests in the past as well — or Ninth Avenue to use the IJP Road instead.
“Diversion has been placed for both sides of traffic at Murree Road, Faizul Islam stop, from and to Faizabad. Alternatively, traffic going from Islamabad to Murree Road, Rawalpindi, is diverted to Islamabad Highway.
The statement added, “Diversion has been placed for both sides of traffic from Express Chowk to D-Chowk at Jinnah Avenue. Alternatively, Nadra Chowk and Ayub Chowk can be used for entry and exit to the Red Zone.”
In addition, diversion has been placed for traffic from Islamabad Highway to IJP Rd at Sohan Stop. The traffic is diverted instead to Faisal Avenue, the statement added.
The spoke person said that the metro bus service was suspended in Rawalpindi but was running from the stop on IJP Road to the Pakistan Secretariat.
Police sources said 24 TLP workers were arrested ahead of the march while officers who were on leave were called back to duty.
Senior police officers earlier told Dawn that about three dozen containers had been arranged to put on different roads, including Islamabad Expressway, to stop the TLP from entering the capital or staging a sit-in at Faizabad Interchange.
The containers were being brought to the Faizabad Interchange and put on the roads at midnight. Besides, well-equipped police personnel was deployed in and around the interchange.
Police were also deputed at the entry point of the capital at Tarnol, Rawat and Bhara Kahu. Moreover, containers were arranged to block the roads at these three points but a final direction was awaited from the higher authorities.
Over 2,000 police officials are being deployed at the main points, including the entry points, to counter the TLP’s march, the officers said.
The police lines headquarters released 1,500 anti-riot gear kits for the contingents to be deployed.
Meanwhile, the Rawalpindi Traffic Police completed arrangements to deal with the long march. In a statement, it said Murree Road and Rawal Road have been closed for commuters while Old Airport Road and Mall Road are open.
Additional policemen have been posted at the High Court Chowk and Mall Road to ensure the smooth flow of traffic, it said.
The district administration sealed Gawalmandi, Saddar Road, and Kamran Market areas.
The story was originally published here.