Islamabad - As the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration is busy reviewing operational preparedness for the PTI’s November 30 sit-in, it has asked the ministry of interior to give policy guidelines on at least four key points that include entry of marchers into Islamabad, dislodging present agitators from the D-Chowk, arrest of PTI leadership before November 30 and the mode of use of force against the protestors, highly reliable sources told The Nation on Tuesday.

The decision to take guidelines from the ministry of interior on these key points was taken in a recently-held meeting chaired by chief commissioner ICT. The meeting agreed that clear policy guidelines be solicited from the ministry of interior in order to finalise a robust and effective operational strategy. The government is yet to take a final decision whether to allow the PTI workers’ march towards Islamabad or block them outside the limits of the federal capital.

According to the minutes of the meeting, a copy of which is exclusively available with The Nation, the authorities discussed two likely scenarios; “If rally is not allowed” and “If rally is allowed.” The questions asked by the ICT administration to the interior ministry are: “Will the marchers be allowed to enter Islamabad?,” “Will ICT administration and police attempt to dislodge agitators presently stationed at sit-in before November 30?,” “Will the government condone arrest of the 1st and 2nd tier PTI leaders before the onset of assembly/movement of crowd for November 30?,” and “In case of decision of use of force, whether it will be anti-riot mode or coercive, zero-tolerance mode?”

According to the operational plan discussed by the high-ups of the ICT administration, representatives of the intelligence agencies and law-enforcing agencies, in case the rally is not allowed, the PTI workers will be tackled by deploying anti-riot reserves and containers in four layers. Four cordons would be established to stop the protesters from reaching the Red Zone, said the sources.

The protesters would be kept away from the federal capital by blocking the outermost cordon; blocking bridges leading towards Rawalpindi and Islamabad from different districts of Punjab by the Punjab police. The bridges include Jhelum River bridge (district Jhelum), Bhera Motorway bridge (district Sargodha), Khushab River bridge (district Khushab), Talagang bridges (district Chakwal), Attok bridges (GT Road and Motorway), Khushhal Garh bridge (district Attock) and Jahari Kas (district Attok).

The joint cordon, entry points of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, will be blocked through joint deployment including layers of reserves, containers and vantage points at various locations including Sawan River bridges on Express Highway (GT Road) and Chakri Road (motorway). Motorway Toll Plazas including Islamabad, Chakri, Bahatar and Tarnol will also be blocked. Furthermore, Pir Sohawa, Margalla Hills, Sangjani, Murree Road Satra Meel, Kahuta Club Bridge and Chowk Pindori will also be blocked to restrict entry of the PTI protesters into Islamabad, says the plan. The middle cordon covering IJP Road and Islamabad Express Highway would be blocked through strategic joint/exclusive deployment by Rawalpindi and Islamabad police. Similarly, the innermost cordon around the Red zone would also be blocked. Constant monitoring of agitators on all major points by police in plain clothes has also been planned.

On the issue of personnel requirement, the meeting observed that in order to secure the inner-most cordoned area, at least 10,000 security personnel will be required which include support forces from Punjab, AJK, and FC. As regards the decision on selection of venue, it was agreed that only two sites can be allowed for the protestors that include Jinnah Avenue or Kashmir Highway. The minutes read: “Out of the 10,000 personnel, 4,000 would be from Islamabad police, 3,000 from Punjab police, 1,000 from AJK police and 2,000 from FC. At least 14 SPs and 19 ASP/DSPs would command the force. In addition to 4,000 personnel of Islamabad police, almost 3,200 personnel shall be performing duties as mobile patrols as well as at pickets, besides security duties.”

On the question of logistic support required for controlling the PTI’s protesters, it was observed that the force requires 15 armed personnel carriers against the available two, 30 prisoner vans against the available 6, and 70 troops’ carrier vehicles against the available 13. The deficiency would be met from other provinces. The meeting further proposed that 20 cranes are also required, besides 1,000 bundles of razor wire and 350 containers. One hundred containers would be required for cordoning off the Red Zone only. Media handling has been assigned to the AIG (operations), according to the operational plan. In case the rally is allowed entry into Islamabad, the protesters would not be allowed to occupy D-Chowk. However, the police will adopt anti-riot mode, defensive posture with controlled resistance at various access points.

The pre-event strategy includes information and intelligence gathering, establishment of control room at Rescue-15, arrangements of logistics, identification of troubled points, briefing of officers and troops, effective deployment and communication system and minimum body contact with the agitators.

Earlier, the representative of the intelligence agencies apprised the meeting that an estimated number of 50,000 to 60,000 agitators will join PTI and they will try to reach D-Chowk. The administration considers Awami Muslim League of Sheikh Rashid as the likely ally of the PTI during the sit-in.

The Islamabad police believed that agitators belonging to PTI are relatively of mild nature with women constituting a large part of the crowd. They suggested that due to trenches dug for metro bus project at Express Chowk and adjacent area, the protesters must be contained to the safer area. The ICT administration is also keeping in mind that the Supreme Court has clearly directed that no blockade should be tolerated on Constitution Avenue. The intelligence agencies reported to the meeting that protestors may also include extremist hardliners especially from KP. They said recent statements by PTI leaders reflect frustration which can cause administrative problems in case the protesters display proactive behaviour. The DC ICT suggested to the meeting that Red Zone should be sealed with double vertical layer of containers and the agitators must be made to stage their sit-in at Blue Area. He observed that the leadership of PTI cannot be trusted as they have a history of digression from agreed terms and conditions for protest rallies.