ISLAMABAD  - The Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICTA) Saturday closed the Parade Avenue, also known as D-Chowk permanently for protest demonstrations, warning for action against those holding such gathering there in future.
“No protest demonstration would be allowed at D-Chowk in future. The venue has been closed down in pursuance of the federal government’s decision,” Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Amer Ahmed Ali told APP.
The administration has placed concrete barricades at the intersection and affixed barbed wires there to keep the protestors away. He said Section 144 is already imposed in federal capital, so the protestors gathering there at the D-Chowk would have to face action under the same law. He said the city administration has already specified Fatima Jinnah Park for the protest demonstrations where the protestors would be provided all possible facilities. The deputy commissioner said the growing number of protests at D-Chowk had been raising security concerns for being located very close to the high profile buildings at Constitution Avenue.
He said besides security threats, such gatherings were becoming nuisance for the residents as massive traffic jams used to be witnessed across the city in case of such gatherings. Hundreds of the citizens and employees moving to and from Pakistan National Council of the Arts, Pakistan Television, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Awami Markaz, Pak Secretariat, private offices and residential area of Gulshan-e-Jinnah in sector F-5/I.
Amer Ahmed Ali said the city administration has taken this decision witnessing the potential threats posed by the prolonged stay of protestors at the D-Chowk as some groups stayed there for even months.
When questioned whether any government representative would reach the protestors at Fatima Jinnah Park to know their grievances, he said they used to attend protestors at D-Chowk, National Press Club and Abpara and they would do the same at the new venue.
Additional Deputy Commissioner General Islamabad Farasat Khan said only Parade Avenue has been closed for protest demonstrations as protest gatherings are yet permitted at other locations. He said though some civil society organizations hold protest demonstrations there at F-9 Park, it would take sometime to persuade the potential groups to gather there. He said the closure of D-Chowk is an administrative step on part of the city administration and that efforts would continue to limit such gatherings at the proposed venue. The trend to hold protest demonstrations at D-Chowk got momentum during the lawyers’ movement in 2007 who used to gather there demanding restoration of superior judiciary
“Thanks God, this venue has been closed down. We had been demanding this step since long as frequent protests had been marring our businesses,” said Hamid Arsalan, a trader in Blue Area.