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IHC orders Islamabad to be liberated by Saturday

IHC

On Friday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered the capital administration to take all necessary steps to clear the Faizabad Interchange of protestors by Saturday.

Citizens of the capital have been inconvenienced for the past week because of the protestors. They belong to various ‘religious’ parties, including the Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) and the Sunni Tehreek Pakistan (ST), and demanding the sacking of Law Minister Zahid Hamid and strict action against those behind the amendment to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath in the Elections Act 2017. The modification had earlier been deemed a ‘clerical error’ and restored to its original form on Thursday, November 16.

The TLY had occupied the Faizabad Bridge which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad through the Islamabad Expressway and Murree Road, both of which are the main commuting routes between the twin cities.

The court ordered the capital administration to ensure the dispersal of protesters, whether through peaceful means or by the use of force.

IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui issued the clearance order after hearing a petition filed by citizen Abdul Qayyum. Islamabad Deputy Commissioner retired Captain Mushtaq Ahmed and the deputy inspector general operations were also present in court today.

Recognizing the difficulties faced by citizens due to the obstruction on the main throughway, the court ordered the capital administration to ensure the dispersal of protesters, whether through peaceful means or by the use of force.

Read More: Will government finally take action to end Islamabad sit-in?

The court also permitted the capital administration to exercise their authority to request the deployment of the Punjab Rangers or the Frontier Constabulary, if needed.

The DC informed the court that the number of protesters, currently between 1,800 to 2,000, may increase after Friday prayers.

He further stated that the protestors had gathered rocks to defend themselves and added that there were reports that they also possessed 10 to 12 firearms.

He estimated that at least three to four hours would be needed to clear the area, and that it would get dark quickly after Friday prayers. He said conducting an operation in the dark may not be responsible.

Justice Siddiqui lamented that the administration had been unsuccessful in exercising its authority to end the protest. He pointed out that there is already a designated area for people to register their protests in the capital ─ the Democracy and Speech Corner.

Any citizen who wishes to exercise their right to freedom of speech must not inconvenience other citizens, the court said.

The DC said an operation will take place in the morning, as it cannot take place at night.

The administration indicated that a written warning will be issued giving the protesters until 10pm on Friday to end their occupation. If they do not do so, only then will an operation take place.

The DC said an operation will take place in the morning, as it cannot take place at night.

The police, FC and Rangers will also be deployed to assist in the operation.


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