Islamabad - As Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan has announced maximum turnout in Islamabad sit-in on November 30 for a ‘decisive war’ against the government, the government is all busy devising a counterstrategy that also suggests prohibiting entry of the protesters into Red Zone through a presidential ordinance to be promulgated very soon, highly reliable sources in the ministry of law told The Nation on Sunday.
Through what looks as a PTI sit-in-specific piece of legislation, the government will give legal cover to the ‘sanctity’ of Red Zone and certain acts over there as use of force against LEAs, using innocent women and children as human shield and illegal entry into the key installations will be punishable with imprisonment for 10 years maximum and fine up to Rs 500,000. The sources said that the legal wizards of the government are busy giving final touches to the draft ordinance so that the president could promulgate the same before November 30, the day on which PTI is planning to hold a mammoth public rally at the D-Chowk Islamabad. The move is indicative of the fact that Nawaz Sharif-led government is not willing to resolve the issues politically; rather it is relying upon the administrative measures to tackle the continuing onslaught by the PTI. The ordinance which will extend to the federal capital only will provide the federal government a tool for at least 120 days to deal legally with the PTI’s sit-in as it might be the thought that the sit-in is not stretching beyond four more months.
According to a draft copy of the ordinance ‘The Establishment of High Security Zone, 2014,’ which is exclusively available with The Nation, the entry of five or more persons in Red Zone is prohibited in order to protect the key installations located in the designated area. The draft ordinance says ‘High Security Zone’ includes any place, area, road, or building premises which the chief commissioner ICT notifies in the official gazette as high security zone. Buildings situated in Red Zone i.e. Aiwan-e-Sadar, Prime Minister House, Prime Minister Office, Parliament House, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Federal Shariat Court, Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat, FBR, Radio Pakistan, Foreign Office, PTV, Cabinet Secretariat, Pak Secretariat, Kohsar Complex, Judicial Colony, Diplomatic Enclave, Balochistan House, KP House, Punjab House, Sindh House and any other building, installation, premises, notified by the deputy commissioner of Islamabad will be considered as key installations. Private buildings in the high security zone include Marriott Hotel and Serena Hotel. The D-Chowk includes the Parade Avenue which is used for army parade on national events, the proposed ordinance says.
It defines “legal entry” as of the work employees, diplomats or other officers, invited guests while it defines “illegal entry” as persons who enter the high security zone by concealing themselves or forcefully or carrying arms without informing the forces deployed at the entry points. Under the proposed law, permission to enter high security zone to a person who is not resident, worker or official visitors will be given by the SP or DSP of the ICT police nominated by the IGP Islamabad for this purpose.
Under the law, certain acts are prohibited in the high security zone. Three or more persons gathered with “stick” or any instrument which may cause bodily injury or anticipation of injury, destruction of movable and immovable property or anticipation of it shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term as 3 years or fine which may extend to Rs 50,000 or with both. Similarly, use of force against the law enforcing agencies; using innocent people, females and children as human shield to accomplish ill designs; entry in the key installations and causing damage to transmission as well as equipment placed in these buildings; setting on fire important and secret record kept in these buildings and vehicles; causing any damage to the same with the view to spoil it and keeping hostage to the citizens dwelling in the areas or working in the government offices is prohibited under the law. Furthermore blocking entry of authorised citizens/ employees in the high security zone or in their offices and establishing check posts within high security zone to check the vehicles of authorised citizens and employees is prohibited and shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for 10 years but shall not be less than 5 years and fine which may extend to Rs 500,000 or with both.
Whoever illegally enters the area of high security zone will be liable to punishment with imprisonment for a minimum period of 6 months or fine which may extend to Rs 10,000 but not less than Rs 5,000. Under the law, gathering of five or more persons or staging any type of demonstration in the high security zone will not be allowed and violators will be punished with imprisonment which may extend to 3 years or fine Rs 10,000 but not less than Rs 5,000 or with both, says the proposed ordinance. On use of force, the legislation says that the instructions/ guidelines contained in section 127-129 CrPC and Police Rule 14.56 may be implemented mutatis mutandis. All the offences under this ordinance shall be cognisable and non-bailable except illegal entry into the area of high security zone. The ordinance further says that no suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall lie against federal government, officers/officials of law-enforcement agencies or any officer in respect of anything which is in good faith done under this ordinance or the rules made there under. The ordinance will override the other law and the chief commissioner ICT will make rules for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of the ordinance, says the draft ordinance.
Under the proposed ordinance, law enforcing agencies include capital territory police, rangers, frontier constabulary or any other civil armed force or police of other provinces which is being called by the ICT police or administration for providing them assistance in performing duty in the high security zone.
The term ‘Red Zone’ was first used during the lawyers’ movement in Musharraf era to block entry of the protestors on to the Constitution Avenue but had no legal cover. In the past, the governments used to ban the protestors’ entry into the Red Zone through section 144 or other administrative means.