ISLAMABAD: Touseef Ali and his Bhara Kahu family decided to visit the Pakistan Monument, but after they were denied admission, they had to return from the entrance on the side of Srinagar Highway.
“This gate has remained closed for years for security reasons; please come from the other side,” a security guard told the tourists.
Like Touseef, a huge number of people arrive every day at the gate of Srinagar Highway only to know that it is closed. They then take the side of Aabpara or I-8 from Garden Avenue to meet the monument.
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Visitors face gridlocks near the entrance to the monument, especially on weekends, when the road is used for parking and vehicles have to use the reverse gear to return from the same road.
Although another lane to the memorial that should be used for exit is also closed as it is used for riding horses and camels. However, the road is unlocked upon the entry of “special guests, VIPs and officers,” said a security guard.
In the country, the VIP culture should be removed and all people should be treated equally,” a taxi driver said. He welcomed the decision by Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed to withdraw police pickets from Islamabad and asked him to order the reopening of the entrance gate to the Srinagar Highway monument as well.
We belong to these buildings and highways, so we [citizens] should be permitted to use them to access the Srinagar Highway monument as well,” he said.”
Another resident, Naseem Hussain, said the overall arrangements on the monument’s grounds are good, but the side entrance of Srinagar Highway should be reopened.
There is no security problem in the world now, but the gate has been closed for years here,’ he said, asking the Ministry of the Interior to take note of the matter. He also requested that the Rs20 per person entrance fee be abolished.
Interestingly, against Rs5 million, which expired in 2015, the Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) won the contract to collect the entry fee nearly a decade ago. The contract has not been extended since then, but the DMA extends it with a 10pc rise per year.
The Monument of Pakistan is a national treasure and all people have the right to visit it. Normally, a single Rs20 ticket does not matter, but they have to buy tickets for everyone when families from poor backgrounds come here,” said a security guard.
DMA was said to be a resourceful agency by a CDA official. The accumulation of approximately six to seven million annually is a small deal for the DMA, even if the admission fee is eliminated, there will be no significant loss. But without the participation of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI), the DMA can not take such a decision,” the official said.
“DMA Director Amir Shahzad said when contacted: “Being newly-appointed, I have no idea why the Srinagar Highway side entrance is barred. In order to verify why the road is blocked, I will visit the monument. Let me tell you that we are going to make a decision to make things easy for tourists,’ he added.