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Azadi March: Supreme Court orders Islamabad administration to make arrangements

The court questioned the government’s denial of permission to the protesters to hold their protest on the Srinagar highway.

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Supreme Court directed the interior secretary and police to review their policies on road closures. “Let them protest and then go home, we expect the government to remove barricades.” Justice Ahsan said. The court also directed the PTI lawyer to consult with the PTI leaders and seek assurances that the protest would be peaceful, the property would not be damaged and there would be no violence.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, comprising Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, issued the orders while hearing the petition filed by Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) President Mohammad Shoaib Shaheen yesterday seeking removal of the blockades in the capital ahead of the PTI’s march. They stressed that it is PTI’s right to protest and they must be provided an alternate site.

The petition was moved under Article 184(3) of the Constitution after Shoaib Shaheen invited the attention of Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial during a routine hearing in courtroom no. 1 towards difficulties being faced by citizens due to roadblocks as well as police raids on residences of lawyers.

Earlier today, the court had issued notices to the interior secretary, Islamabad’s chief commissioner, deputy commissioner, inspector general of police, and advocate general to appear in the court at 12 pm (today). The court issued notices to provincial governments as well.

During the hearing, the court questioned the government’s denial of permission to the protesters to hold their protest on the Srinagar highway. Replying to the court, the attorney general responded that permission was denied due to a serious threat to the PTI chief Imran Khan.

Read more: Imran Khan urges ‘neutrals’, judiciary to do the right thing

In this chaotic situation, many analysts have the opinion that the apex court should have intervened when the government, end was blocking roads and raids were carried out across the Punjab and Sindh in the last 2, 3 days well before the March date. This tense situation across the country could have been avoided if the right of peaceful protest under the constitution had been granted to the protesters.

Senior political analyst Dr. Moeed Pirzada explained the situation and how the government could use the courts to avoid the Imran threat. He revealed that Imran Khan could be restricted to a specific site through the court orders to make the Azadi march ineffective. He further said that the Supreme Court could have taken notice of the illegal and unconstitutional raids in Punjab what he calls Punjab’s Night of Terror where police entered the houses at midnight and intimidated the public.