Govt expands Islamabad's Red Zone amid PTI long march 'threat'

As the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's much-hyped long march to the federal capital gathers momentum, the federal government on Monday extended the Red Zone till Zero Point in Islamabad, Express News reported.

As per details, Faisal Avenue, Margalla Road, Bari Imam and Fifth Avenue have also been declared part of the no-protest area.

The district administration stated that Section 144 will remain imposed in the areas declared as Red Zone, adding that no rally or public gathering will be allowed in the extended area.

Political tension is on the rise in the country after PTI chief Imran Khan finally announced the launching of a fresh movement from October 28 to press the government to announce snap polls. Soon after, the federal capital was put on high alert.

Read more: ‘PTI marchers to be stopped from entering Red Zone’

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Friday warned party chief Imran Khan that Red Zone was government's "red line" which should not be crossed.

He said the PTI could stage its long march at the federal capital’s sectors H-9 and G-9 as allocated by courts, but its participants were restricted from entering the Red Zone, which would be protected by Rangers and Pakistan Army personnel.

According to officials, the interior ministry has already decided to deploy around 30,000 police, rangers, and para-military troops in Islamabad and will not allow protesters to enter the Red Zone near the parliament building.

President’s House, Prime Minister's House, ministers’ offices, parliament, and other important buildings, including foreign embassies, are located in the Red Zone.

Also read: Imran asks 'those in power' to stand with nation as PTI resumes long march on Day 4

With forces about to roll into Islamabad and the government on an anxious vigil, the scenario has cast the nation’s capital back to a familiar state of affairs witnessed on the eve of PTI’s May 25 long march that saw intense showdown and crackdown.

According to a notice issued by the interior ministry last week, the Islamabad police have completed their preparation for the long march.

The notice stated that a total of 13,086 officers, including two deputy inspector generals of police, four senior superintendents of police and 11 superintendents of police will be posted at the long march venue. Thirty assistant superintendents of police and deputy superintendents of police will also be posted.

Moreover, 4,265 Frontier Corps officers, 3,600 Rangers personnel and 1,022 policemen from the Sindh police will be on duty during the march.

The authorities also sent hundreds of containers into Islamabad to barricade all entry points before the arrival of demonstrators.

The officers will be provided 616 tear gas guns, 50,050 shells, 611 twelve-bore guns and 36,700 rounds. Likewise, 2,430 masks and 374 vehicles will also be given to the police.

All police officers and personnel have been instructed to remain unarmed.

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