LAHORE - The district administration has so far no plan to launch any crackdown against the PTI office-bearers and activists , keeping them away the party’s protest rally scheduled in Islamabad on May 11.
At the city’s main artery, The Mall, Section 144 has been imposed; therefore, the administration and law enforcement agencies will ensure law and order on the road on May 10 and May 11, said the sources in the provincial government quarters. They sources further said that May 11 is expected to be very hectic day as the JI would organise a reception rally in honour of its newly-elected Ameer Maulana Sirajul Haq and the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) is scheduled to stage a protest march from Lahore Railway Station to the Mall. As such police would be deployed at The Mall and at various parts of the city as a matter of maintaining law and order, while additional patrolling would also be carried out in the city, particularly in the constituencies won by the PTI or have sizeable support for the party.
So far no decision has been taken to create hurdle in the movement of the PTI workers from Lahore to Islamabad; however, the administration and the police are not closing their eyes on the situation, especially after what has happened on the occasion of Imran Khan’s appearance before the Lahore High Court on Wednesday.
Sources say although contingency plan to counter any situation is being worked out, yet the government has instructed the law enforcers and administration to give a free hand to the PTI workers for exercising their constitutional right of protest. The Information Minister has also already said that the government acknowledged the right of protest, but it must be exercised in a peaceful manner and within constitutional limits.
Sources said there are no instructions for any department to conduct crackdown on the PTI legislators, office-bearers and workers or stop them from reaching Islamabad if they remain peaceful. Sources also negated the allegations of harassment and intimidation of the PTI workers and office-bearers by the police, although the administration and police are closely monitoring the situation through regular meetings and coordination. They are also watchful of the fact that nefarious elements do not take advantage of the situation to play their game. Sources said Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is being kept abreast of the situation.
The provincial police have finalised a comprehensive strategy to cope with the possible showdown on May 11, as the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf has announced massive protests against the alleged rigging in general elections 2013.
A top police officer told TheNation on the condition of anonymity that there would be zero-tolerance for the troublemakers and no one would be allowed to create unrest in the name of protests.
Sources said that more than 3,000 anti-riot police would be deployed on Sunday to maintain law and order situation in the provincial metropolis.
Hundreds of plainclothesmen would also accompany the rallies to keep a check on the activities of the troublemakers. Special units of anti-riot police to be equipped with tear gas, rubber bullets, batons, riot shields, and anti-riot helmets would remain on-guard at leading arteries to keep the things under control.
“This is our prime responsibility to protect the people and property. We have to maintain public order at all cost and will manage to control the crowds,” the senior officer said while referring to the PTI’s protest campaign.
It was also learnt that Punjab Inspector General of Police Khan Baig issued ‘special instructions’ to the Lahore and Rawalpindi police regarding the security strategy evolved to tackle the PTI leaders and activists .
Sources in the Central Police Office (CPO) said that the Punjab police chief also shared the security plan with the top leadership of the PML-N before finalising the strategy.
On this occasion, the Punjab IGP was asked to ensure stringent action against the PTI workers and leaders if they tried to take the law into their hands. The provincial authorities also directed the police chief to finalise the security plan in the light of the reports prepared by the Special Branch, an intelligence wing of the police.