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Pak govt makes elaborate security arrangements to control 'Azadi March' protesters


Press Trust of India Islamabad
Pakistani authorities placed dozens of shipping containers along the main entry points to Islamabad and deployed Army personnel to control the sea of protesters expected to converge here on Thursday as part of the "Azadi March" demanding Prime Minister Imran Khan's resignation, accusing him of "rigging" the 2018 general elections.
Right-wing Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman launched the Azadi March along with leaders of other opposition parties on October 27 from the southern Sindh province to arrive in Islamabad on October 31 against the incumbent Pakistan government.
He alleged that Khan was elected to power after the polls were rigged in his favour. Rehman also accused Khan of mismanagement of economy, inefficiency and bad governance that has increased hardships of common people.
The number of Rehman's followers swelled as he marched through main urban centers including Sukkur, Multan and Lahore, where he also addressed big crowds.
Apart from the shipping containers, barbed wires would also be used as hurdles if the protesters try to move towards the Red Zone that includes key official buildings and diplomatic enclave, according to police.
Additional police and paramilitary personnel have also been deployed in Islamabad, they said.
The government deployed army personnel in sensitive places in the capital for maintenance of law and order and keeping in view any possible untoward situation due to the opposition's showdown, the Dawn newspaper reported.
The Islamabad local administration requisitioned 111 Brigade in the highly secured Red Zone which houses sensitive buildings like Parliament House, Supreme Court, Foreign Office, Pakistan Television, Radio Pakistan and Diplomatic Enclave (a cluster of dozens of foreign embassies), the report said.
The city administration has set aside a big ground near Peshawar Mor area in the city for the protestors to encamp and hold the rally.
The ministry of interior in a meeting on Wednesday decided to provide three-layered security to the protestors and also keep them on the designated routes and venue.
An official from the ministry said that police will be on the front line and it will be backed by paramilitary personnel. The third layer of the Army will be the deployed at key buildings.
It is not clear if the protesters would disperse after rally or settle for a sit-in to force the government to accept their demands.
Khan and his party has ruled out his resignation but showed readiness to accept any other demand to improve election system or system of governance.
"There is no question of my resignation and I will not resign. Dharna is agenda-based, and it has foreign support," Khan was quoted as saying by the Geo News.
In 2014, Khan himself had organised similar protests against the then government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, demanding his resignation.

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First Published: Oct 31 2019 | 3:25 PM IST

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