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Islamabad barricaded as PTI braces for protest against ECP

Updated 04 Aug, 2022
<p>Containers being placed to routes leading to the Red Zone in Islamabad. Photo via Twitter</p>

Containers being placed to routes leading to the Red Zone in Islamabad. Photo via Twitter

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) will hold a protest at the F-9 park in Islamabad after major parts of the federal capital - including the high-security Red Zone - was barricaded on Thursday.

The PTI had announced the protest outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in anticipation of its verdict in the prohibited funding case. The ECP ruled on Tuesday that the PTI took funding from prohibited sources and concealed details of accounts in documents submitting to the ECP. The party is demanding the resignation of Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja.

Authorities in Islamabad have put up containers on roads and avenues leading to the Red Zone, while extra security personnel have deployed at major points across the capital. Islamabad police said that 2,000 personnel, including those from the Frontier Corps and Rangers, have been deployed in the capital.

The Islamabad deputy commissioner said that Section 144 has been imposed in the Red Zone.

It has also advised residents of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi to use the Margalla Road and avoid roads leading to the Red Zone. It has created great difficulties for people living and working in the federal capital in particular.

On Thursday, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah warned the PTI leadership of strict action if their party workers tried to enter the Red Zone. The Islamabad administration had also denied permission for holding a protest outside the ECP while providing PTI options for alternate venues.

Later, PTI chief Imran Khan said that a parliamentary delegation of the party would visit the ECP office to inform the body that the PTI had lost trust in it.

Earlier today, the PTI chief asked supporters to come to the F-9 park.

“Today, I am calling all our people to come out in [a] peaceful public protest against the CEC and ECP in F-9 park at 6pm. I will be addressing the gathering between 7-7:30pm,” he tweeted.

‘Salvation lies in getting rid of govt’

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that the capital Islamabad looks like a besieged city over the barricades and containers placed at different junctures of the city.

He accused the government of using the election commission to place curbs on the the opposition and limit the powers of the Supreme Court.

“After the people of Punjab, the people are now ready to liberate Islamabad as well,” said Fawad while referring to PTI’s victory in the recently-held by-elections in the province. “Pakistan’s salvation lies in getting rid of the government,” he said.

‘Govt coalition cannot solve issues’

Former interior minister and Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed, a PTI ally, said on Thursday that the government alliance was incapable of solving the country’s problems and conducting general elections.

“The thirteen party alliance (PDM) has targeted Imran Khan and PTI, and wants to use the ECP to have them disqualified,” he said on the ECP’s Tuesday’s decision.

He expressed confidence that the decision would be overturned on appeal by the Supreme Court, he said in a tweet. “Fazlur Rehman and Nawaz Sharif are fanning the flames of the politics of revenge while the PPP is playing the role of a silent spectator.”

PTI leader Omar Ayub, in a press conference on Thursday, said that protest against the ECP would be peaceful.

He said that the recent changes to the laws regulating the National Accountability Bureau showed the government was trying to use the anti-corruption watchdog for its own ends. The National Assembly passed an amendment to the bill on Wednesday, barring NAB from investigation corruption cases below the Rs500 million mark.