ISLAMABAD-After the Islamabad district administration has allowed the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) to hold Azadi March at H-9 by the weekly Sunday Market with temporary stationing in the parking of the Metro Bus depot on October 31 (Thursday), disturbance in normal day-to-day life in Islamabad is imminent.

The memories of Faizabad sit-in by the workers of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in 2017 are still fresh in the minds of the residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. With the main junction of the twin-cities having remained blocked for over a month, the residents had to suffer a lot when it came to commuting. The government was immensely under pressure due to closure of main arteries of the twin cities due to the sit-in at Faizabad interchange.

The situation will not be different this time even before the JUI-F marchers enter the city’s limits. The venue is the H-9 Right-of-Way by the weekly Sunday Market on the edge of Kashmir Highway, the central transit point of the capital. Once choked, it will affect the offices, educational institutions, and normal day-to-day life in the capital. It is to mention here that the road also connects the capital, KPK with areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and a major supply line for those areas. Being venue of the Azadi March so close to the weekly Itwaar Bazaar, it will be difficult for the authorities to open the Bazaar on Friday (Nov 1) even if all goes according to the plan.

The residents are bracing for that is imminent, in an attempt to limit the adverse impact. They seem physically and mentally prepared for the event. They have planned their day-to-day schedule after skipping the days of October 30 and 31 and the Kashmir Highway from the plan, so that they do not get stuck and face any untoward situation. Tayyab Abbas, a government employee who works at the Planning Commission told this scribe that he uses Kashmir Highway to reach office daily, but for these two days; Wednesday and Thursday, he will opt for the Margalla Road to reach office. “I will also try to remain at home after office hours to avoid any unnecessary problem,” he added.

The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has been issued No-Objection Certificate (NOC) by the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration to hold its Azadi March in the city on October 31. It is to mention here that the Administration issued the NOC even the police’s Operation Division and Special Branch of the police intelligence wing recommended against allowing the march. The Special Branch had also referred a threat alert issued by the National Counter Terrorism Authority and the Ministry of Interior that held that JUI-F, PTI, PML-N, PPP and Awami National Party leaders and law-enforcement authorities could be targeted by terrorists. The NOC was issued by Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat.

The NOC states that the JUI-F will be responsible for making internal security arrangements for participants. No damage will be caused to public or private property, and in case of any damage the organiser will be held responsible. The organisers will also take the responsibility that participants will not move beyond the identified boundaries of the venue, a hard thing to implement keeping in view the number of the participants.

The marchers coming from the G.T. Road will enter the capital from Rawat and use the Expressway, I.J. Principal Road and 9th Avenue to get to the venue.

The section coming from the Motorway will use Kashmir Highway. Under the second plan, participants of the march coming from Punjab will be diverted to the Islamabad Expressway from T-Chowk, Rawat to Faizabad. From there, they will head towards Peshawar Mor. Rallies from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be diverted to Kashmir Highway, while rallies from Murree and Azad Kashmir will reach Faizabad and then take 9th Avenue to the venue. These roads will be closed when the rallies come near. The sufferings of the residents start here. They will face difficulty in moving freely in the city.

The Red Zone has already been partially sealed and entry into this area has been restricted until the march concludes. The decision was taken in response to the concerns expressed by diplomats, as the zone also houses the Diplomatic Enclave.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Masstransit Authority (PMA), which is responsible for the Metro Bus service between Rawalpindi and Islamabad, has warned that it will have to suspend the bus service due to security issues if the venue for the Azadi March remains at the H-9 right-of-way. The stage for speakers and other leaders of the march will be set up within the premises of the metro bus depot, because of which the authority will not be able to continue operations. The suspension of the service will also lead to suffering of the commuters who run in thousands daily. Security of the metro bus installations, such as the warehouse and oil depots will be another issue for the authorities to handle with.

Late Tuesday, the deputy commissioner Islamabad has banned use of drone cameras/unmanned aerial vehicles in Islamabad. The ban will remain effective for a period of two months.