On Tuesday, more than a thousand security officers, including police and Rangers, were deployed outside the headquarters of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in Islamabad, where the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would demonstrate against the delay in the decision against the ruling PTI in the foreign funding case.
Both entry and exit points to the Red Zone capital were also blocked, the police said.
PML-N spokesman Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a statement earlier today that all rallies heading for the ECP would converge at 1 p.m. in Kashmir Chowk, encouraging party members and supporters to make their way to the rally.
In the case of international finance, the ECP should start writing down its decision, the people are on their way to getting it. “The crime was uncovered and the thief confessed,” she added, adding that the investigation should be concluded by the commission.
In the meantime, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said that no hurdles had been placed by the government to the opposition’s protest.
The steady movement of traffic on the highways of the capital is indicative of the pro-democratic mentality of the premier. The country has not forgotten when, during a peaceful rally, the PML-N government attacked PTI demonstrators, he said.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed also reiterated these sentiments. He said on Monday that the government had agreed to give the PDM a free hand to organise a Red Zone protest. Yet he made it known that it would not be necessary for someone to take the law into their own hands.
He said the PDM should know that on Constitution Road, the Supreme Court, Parliament House and other institutions were located and the government had taken all the security steps possible to secure them.
They have no intention to stage a sit-in outside the headquarters of the commission, according to the PDM leadership, and the rally will disperse after two to three hours.
Serena Hotel Chowk will be reached by some small rallies from Rawalpindi and Islamabad, from where PDM leaders will lead the main rally to the ECP headquarters, including PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chairman Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PPP leader and former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
The PDM leaders would hold a joint press conference after staging a demonstration.
Both the key opposition parties are involved in the PML-N march, which is projected to play a leading role. Maulana Fazl of JUI-F would also lead from the front, with two different rallies being held by his faction. The PPP is involved in the PDM power show, but its president, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, is not going to be part of it. Instead, top figures of other parties can be seen at the protest.
In November 2014, Akbar S Babar, a founder member of the party, filed an international funding lawsuit against PTI. In PTI’s accounts, he had suspected significant financial violations.
Babar’s accusations included illicit financing sources, concealment of bank accounts in the country and overseas, money laundering, and the use of PTI employees’ private bank accounts as a front to raise illegal contributions from the Middle East.
The ECP is due on Wednesday to hear the funding case against the governing party.
During the opposition’s rally, the Islamabad Capital Territory administration finalised a protection plan to preserve law and order. In order to ensure stability, more than 1,000 police officers were mobilised and 300 Rangers were deputised to support the police department.
Police officers have been advised not to carry weapons; firearms can only be carried by Rangers. The Special Branch and the CIA were both assigned to carry out arrests.
Meanwhile, at both entrance and exit points of the Red Zone, a heavy police force has been mobilised.
In addition, concrete blocks and barbed wire were completely enclosed in the ECP compound, whilst a significant number of security forces were stationed outside the building.