News Analysis |
Religious groups – led by the Tehreek-e-Labaik Yah Rasool Allah Pakistan and Sunni Tehreek Pakistan – have been in Islamabad and Rawalpindi for three straight days now, bringing the twin cities to a standstill.
Hundreds of protestors have blocked Faizabad interchange which has resulted in traffic jams all over the twin cities, especially on Islamabad Expressway, Kashmir Highway, Murree Road and 9th Avenue. Diplomatic Enclave, Kashmir Chowk and the Red Zone have been completely cordoned off – exacerbating problems for commuters.
According to witness accounts, only a few hundred protesters have encamped over the Faizabad Bridge. This is the only route which connects Lahore to Taxila and beyond. Hence, blocking this road creates problems not only for residents of the cities but also for hundreds of transporters who ferry goods all across the country using this route.
Sources have revealed that a few leaders and activists of the religious groups had been arrested from different parts of Punjab, including Faisalabad.
Moreover, the stick-wielding protestors have been seen harassing the general public. Islamabad police have received complaints of assaults on the public by protestors but have so far failed to take much action, apart from lodging two FIR’s containing charges for rioting, unlawful assembly, and assaulting an official.
Meanwhile, police and LEA’s are nowhere to be seen. Sources reveal that the police, Rangers and FC personnel have been deployed in the Red Zone to protect sensitive installations, leaving regular people at the mercy of few hundred religious zealots.
Government response to this sit-in
The government and CDA administration seem least bothered by the problems being faced by the residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. A complete media blackout is being observed and the cause of this blockade and the steps taken to end it are not being made public.
Blocking off roads creates problems not only for residents of the cities but also for hundreds of transporters who ferry goods all across the country using this route.
Sources have revealed that a few leaders and activists of the religious groups had been arrested from different parts of Punjab, including Faisalabad. However, not enough action has been taken against them in the capital so far, except for a few new cases that were registered.
Advise for twin-cities residents
The residents of the twin cities must not commute through Islamabad highway since it is blocked. Commuters can use Murree Road to enter Islamabad through Stadium Road. Khana Pul-Rawal Chowk can also be used for the same purpose. Kashmir Highway is open but massive traffic jams have been observed there for the past few days.
The best advice for residents is to plan in advance before travelling between the two cities and confirm routes that are open to avoid being stuck in traffic. Officials have speculated that it might take a few more days for this deadlock to end and expressed hope that this matter would be resolved amicably.