ISLAMABAD - After issuing a number of 'warning statements' that PTI would not be allowed to hold public meeting in the Red Zone of the capital, the government on Friday finally allowed the protesting party to hold its November 30 show in the high security area of Islamabad.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Friday told reporters during a press conference that the PTI and the local administration had reached an agreement in connection with holding November 30 public meeting and that the main stage would be at the Parade Ground. Nisar however warned that no one will be allowed to take law into one’s hand as violation of the agreement would trigger appropriate response from security agencies.
The Parade Ground falls in the restricted Red Zone. "Venue will be the Parade Avenue towards the MCB Bank on Jinnah Avenue (excluding the service roads) Islamabad. The stage will be at the Parade Avenue facing towards the Jinnah Avenue/Blue Area," according to a 42-clause undertaking signed by Col (r) Younis Ali Raza, the chief coordinator and organiser of PTI rally.

The minister said the local administration was issuing NOC to the PTI to hold its rally as government has given permission but with some assurances. "We would not allow violation of those points that have been agreed (in the agreement)," Nisar said, adding that because of the same reason he was putting those points before the media.

The minister said that under the agreement, the stage of the rally would be dismantled at 11:59 AM on November 30 night and the organisers of the rally should ensure that there would be no stampede. However, the minister made it clear that special stage of the rally would be dismantled and not the stage of PTI sit-in.

Under the signed undertaking, anti-state, anti-religion, sectarian or anti Pakistan ideology slogans or speeches shall not be made while effigies or flags of any political or religious parties/persons will not be burnt in the rally. Weapons/firearms of any kind including batons, sticks or any instrument that can cause bodily harm shall not be taken at or near the venue of jalsa; for which the police and law enforcement agencies will conduct thorough checking. Frisking of participants at entry-points of the rally will be the joint responsibility of the ICT Police and rally organisers.

Under the agreement, it will be the responsibility of the organisers that participants would not go ahead of the venue. The organisers shall take responsibility that participants shall not move beyond the identified boundaries of the venue; any violation of this and resultant consequences shall be the responsibility of the organisers.

The organisers would be responsible for the inner security of the rally while law enforcement agencies (LEAs) would perform security duties outside. The organisers will be responsible if participants of the rally caused damage to public and private property. The organisers will ensure peaceful dispersal of the participants at the end of the jalsa and will ensure safety of the participants as the rally was being held at metro bus project construction site.

"In case of any violation of the agreement leading towards the reaction of the security forces, the responsibility would fall on the organisers," the minister said. "We want that people peacefully participate in the rally and peacefully disperse," he said. If someone took the law into one’s hands, the security forces would take action, he warned.

Chaudhry Nisar informed that the PTI had given the application to the local administration to hold the public meeting at the Parade Ground and on both sides of the Constitution Avenue and the government told it that holding rally at the Constitution Avenue was non-negotiable. The PTI accepted it and now the interior ministry and the local administration were satisfied on the agreement signed with the PTI, he said.
"PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) earlier had violated the agreement signed with the local administration and entered the Red Zone. But the government showed restraint at that time until both attacked the Parliament and PM House," he said, adding that the government would not show any flexibility this time.

While responding questions, the minister said that a non-civilian spy agency had warned the interior ministry about serious threats of TTP attack in Islamabad. He hoped that dialogue with the PTI would start after November 30 and said," Ball is now in the court of PTI." He said that he was not in contact with PTI chief Imran Khan now.

Nisar made it clear that the government had not made any deal with PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri and said, "It was Dr Qadri’s own decision to leave the sit-in. Neither we made any underhand deal nor did we hold discussions with him." He said that the capital police was unarmed and equipped with water cannons for the first time. The police however could use tear gas shells and batons in case of any eventuality as it was now fully trained to deal with riots.