KASWAR KLASRA & Asma Ghani

ISLAMABAD - The country’s Parliament has taken on the appearance of a heavily guarded fortress on Saturday, two days ahead of long march against the incumbent government and its policies.

Besides that, Presidency, Prime Minister House and Diplomatic Enclave have also been given security cover keeping in view the situation ahead of long march.

The long march, organised by chairman Tehreek Minhaj-ul-Quran (movement to follow path of Quran) is expected to draw thousands of people across the country and is due to start today (Sunday). March has been scheduled to reach the federal capital on January 14.

According to officials of Islamabad District management, as many as 10,000 policemen of Islamabad capital territory police in collaboration with thousands officials of Rangers, Frontier Constabulary, commandoes of Motorways police and Punjab police would be deployed, though organisers of long march has assured they have no intention of causing damage to lives and property.

Official sources confirmed on Saturday that 100 platoons of Frontier Constabulary and a contingent of 4,000 FC personnel have been reached Islamabad to help Islamabad capital territory police to maintain law and order in Islamabad ahead of long march.

Although Islamabad district management started homework to keep the marchers away from entering the federal capital Islamabad, however on Saturday, Islamabad district management deployed huge number of policemen and officials of other law enforcement agencies borrowed from other parts of country and sealed the entrances of Islamabad by placing huge containers.

Islamabad district management has already sealed Red Zone by placing containers and tankers.

According to official sources, managers of Islamabad District informed the interior ministry that Rs 250 million will be required for the security arrangements of the long march. The government has announced public holiday on Monday due to march while Islamabad capital territory police was expected to unveil alternative route for public/private transport in the city on Sunday.

Keeping in view the security condition in Islamabad ahead of long march, traders union of Islamabad issued a circular on Saturday asking shopkeepers to open their shops on their own risk.

“It may be risky to open shops in blue area on 14 January, 2013. However, decision to close or open the shops on 14 January purely depends upon yourself,” a circular issued by the union of traders of Islamabad stated.

Amid a wave of chaos and uncertainty that has gripped the federal capital ahead of long march, a spokesperson of Islamabad reiterated on Saturday that police will not allow anybody to take law into his hands.

“ We are fully prepared to guard life and property of locals as we did in the past. We have been backed up by other law enforcement agencies to maintain law and order in Islamabad,” Mohammad Naeem, spokesperson for Islamabad police said.

Official sources confirmed on Saturday that Islamabad police have been equipped with teargas shells, rubber bullets and arms to cope with any unwanted situation ion the capital.

There is a wave of concern circulating among the locals who fear the marchers may generate numerous problems for them by disrupting law and order, creating a dearth of fuel, grocery and other commodities.

“These so-called peaceful gatherings had been resulted into loss of lives and property. I fear that something unfortunate is going to happen again,” Mumtaz Ahmed, an assistant professor said.

And he was not alone who has such apprehensions as the majority of Islamabad people are feeling the same. They want the march to be held outside the city.An Islamabad traffic police official said the ITP were preparing an alternative traffic plan for public and private vehicles in a bid to give them relief during long march. On September 20 last year, thousands of protesters clashed with police while protesting against an anti-Islam film.

Police had to fire tear gas and bullets when demonstrators tried to entered diplomatic enclave. The army was called to protect the enclave after protesters broke through a barrier of containers. Memories of the mayhem have not faded from the minds of locals and they have asked the government to divert the marchers to some other place.

Meanwhile, hospitals in Islamabad were put on high alert on Saturday to cope with any emergency situation that may arise due to long march on capital on Monday.

Main public sector hospitals of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), Polyclinic Hospital and Capital Development Authority (CDA) Hospital will remain open for the general public besides the hospitals’ administrations have taken special measures to deal any untoward situation in the wake of the long march. 

Officials of the hospitals informed that they are equipped with all necessary medicines, surgical equipment and blood reserves to handle an emergency and all the hospital staff will remain on duty during the long march. In this regard a special emergency meeting was held at Pims under the chairmanship of the acting executive director of Pims Professor Dr Zaheer Abbasi. The meeting was attended by all heads of departments of medical, surgical, pharmacy, transport, nursing, paramedics, security, food and administrations of burn center and maternal & child healthcare center.

Dr Waseem Khawaja, spokesperson of Pims, informed that all the leaves of the hospital staffs have been cancelled and rota and emergency duties have been put in place. Besides, extra number of doctors, paramedical and nursing staff will be present during the long march.

Outpatient departments will remain open on Monday and routine surgeries will be performed but if any emergency situation arises then only emergency operations will be done. As many as 200 extra beds have been marked and reserved for any disaster and this amount of beds can be increased by converting the OPDs of Pims, children hospital and mother and child hospital into separate wards thus increasing the extra beds to 1000, enhancing the capacity of 1000 beds at Pims to 2000 beds.

Sufficient number of blood bags has been stored and medicines and surgical equipment for 200 surgeries has been stored. The pharmacy department has been instructed to ensure the regular supply of medicines to all the patients coming during long march.

All the X-ray machines, CT-Scan and MRI machines will be operative round the clock and all the laboratory staff will also be present to ensure uninterrupted investigations of all kinds of cases.

The meeting instructed transport incharge to ensure the availability of 20 well-equipped ambulances with all the trained medical staff. The kitchen department will ensure the availability of food to patients and hospital staff if there is any interruption of food supply in twin cities.  All the security staff will be on high alert during the march and number of doctors in emergency will also be doubled.

In a meeting Polyclinic Hospital officials also decided that all the hospital staff would be on call for 48 hours from Monday and its emergency services will be upgraded. Hospital Spokesman Dr Sharif Astori said the hospital has separated 100 beds and upgraded its two emergency departments. And if the need arises, the hospital will arrange medical facilities at its dispensaries in Abbpara and G-7/3.

He said the hospital has made arrangements for children and women if they arrive with long march and get affected due to severe weather in the city. And operation and two emergencies have also been upgraded to provide medical care to other affectees.  According to him the hospital has 12 to 14 ambulances to move the patients to hospitals.

Both the hospitals have made residential arrangements for its staff residing in faraway areas.