Islamabad - Ensuring extraordinary security measures around the venue of Pakistan Day parade, the army Wednesday temporarily took control of two of the CDA-run gigantic facilities at scenic Shakarparian - Pak-China Friendship Centre and Arts and Craft Village.

“Both facilities will be utilized to house contingents of army personnel besides participants who will perform on the parade day,” said a senior official of the CDA.

Talking to The Nation, CDA Member Engineering Shahid Sohail confirmed the development, saying not only the Army had sought permission to utilize these premises but cabinet division has also directed the CDA to do so.

However, he did not give any timeframe about vacation of these facilities by the army after March 23.

The motorists who daily commute on Shakarparian road - which connects 7th Avenue with the sector I-8 - have been witnessing frequent movement and presence of army personnel, who have also established makeshift security checkpoints near recently constructed Parade Avenue - which has been turned into a restricted area for general public as part of security arrangements for March 23 parade.

Three-storey Pak-China Friendship Center also houses 60 well-furnished rooms, besides dedicated function areas, halls and auditoriums, which could be used as lodging facility by the army. Similarly enough living spaces are also available at Arts and Craft village.

While lush green grounds at Art and Craft village will be utilized for parking floats and armed forces vehicles, which will be exhibit on parade day.

Shakarparian area remains a favorite tourist destination, as it houses a number of places including Pakistan Monument Museum, Lok Virsa Museum, Shakarparian National Park, Gun and Country Club, Sports Complex, Rose and Jasmine Garden, Cultural Complex, Pakistan Museum of Natural History, Pak-China Friendship Centre, and Arts and Craft Village, etc.

However, these favorite tourist destinations would be shut down, as per security plan for March 23, by Friday (March 20).

In 2007, thousands of trees were felled in the one square kilometre area of Margalla Hills National Park Area - between Garden Avenue and Faizabad - along Islamabad Highway to develop Parade Avenue.

The Pakistan Day parade will be held this year after a lapse of seven years.

Meanwhile, as part of security measures and to avoid traffic congestions on the occasion of Pakistan Day military parade, the authorities concerned have banned entry of heavy traffic into the federal capital for three days i.e. March 21-23.

According to the traffic plan issued by the Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP), no heavy traffic would be allowed into the city for three days due to the parade. The light traffic coming from Lahore via GT Road could access Motorway via Rawat T Cross and Rawalpindi Sadar Road. The vehicles heading towards Murree could use Lehtrar Road and Tramari Chowk. Kashmir Highway and G sectors of the capital would also be approachable via this route, the plan said.

The invitees at the parade would be distributed cards of different colours which would also guide the invitees about access to the Parade Avenue, parking lot and sitting place for them. “If a guest holds a card of red colour, he would follow route marking, sitting enclosure and parking lot of the same colour,” the plan said. The ITP has advised the guests to carry CNICs and invitation cards along them while heading towards the Parade Avenue, Shakarparyan Ground. They would not be allowed to carry camera, mobile phone, hand bag and eatables, the plan clarified.