Friday, January 27, 2023

Islamabad braces for Imran Khan’s long march, police put on high alert

Pakistan’s government has deployed a large number of security officials and put Islamabad city on high alert as the capital city braces for fresh protests by Imran Khan.

The capital city has been put on high alert since Tuesday after former Prime Minister Imran Khan announced to hold a “long march” on Friday, which will reach the federal capital on Nov. 4, in a move to persuade the government to call fresh general elections.

Khan, while addressing a news conference, announced his protest will begin from Lahore on Friday and will then be joined by people from across the country before it reaches Islamabad on or around Nov. 4.

“This will be the largest long march in the country’s history,” he highlighted, mentioning that the government, despite his repetitive warnings, is not ready to call for early general elections, which are due in late 2023.

Government’s Preparations ahead of the Long March

The government has also started preparations to stop long-march protestors from entering the red-zone area near the parliament building. According to police officials, the following deployments have been made in different areas of the capital:

  • At least 13,086 personnel of the Islamabad police
  • 4,199 Islamabad police officials
  • 1,022 Sindh police personnel
  • 4,265 FC personnel
  • 3,600 Rangers

The deployed personnel are equipped with the following ammunition:

  •  616 teargas guns
  • 50,050 teargas shells
  • 611 12-bore guns
  • 36,700 12-bore rounds
  • 17 pepper ball guns
  • 4,000 projectiles
  • 15,000 spray paints
  • 2,430 masks
  • 374 vehicles

“The government has already decided to call out the army to assist the civil administration in security,” told an anonymous official of the Interior Ministry while talking to a news agency.

Instructions Made to the Police officers

Islamabad police have issued the following instructions to its officers concerning the code of conduct during PTI’s long march:

  • The police officials have been told to avoid firing the shells at marchers directly since many of the long-range teargas shells available with the Islamabad police can “seriously injure” people or in some cases might cause deaths if fired directly.
  • Officers deployed at the frontline will be wearing anti-riot gear while those without proper gear will be posted outside the reach of the marchers
  • The policemen deployed to counter the long march will not be armed with weapons and would only be allowed to carry batons.
  • Policemen have to avoid the upper parts of the body when hitting protesters in case of baton charge and use their shields effectively in case of stone-pelting by the protesters.

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