Life halted for third consecutive day as people continue to suffer in twin cities


ISLAMABAD: Religious hardliners protesting the fair acquittal of Aasiya Bibi by apex court after no proof against her have blocked main roads connecting the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi for the third consecutive day due to which routine life continues to be disturbed.

The ultra-Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) and a few other religious parties including the Jamiat Ulema-e Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Sunni Tehreek, Ahle Sunnat wal Jammat (ASWJ) continued their protests on Friday refusing to believe that Aasiya Bibi was falsely accused.

In the main event, the religious parties headed by ASWJ took out a rally from Aabpara to D-Chowk. Party leaders Maulana Masoodur Rehman and others while addressing the event condemned the Supreme Court’s (SC) verdict and reiterated their conviction to not give in to government pressure.

Around 4,000 to 5,000 protesters were allowed to enter D-Chowk after giving an the government an assurance that they will remain peaceful and offer Friday prayers in front of the Parliament House, President House and Supreme Court.

In another instance, Maulana Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid in an audio message to Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi reiterated his support and hailed the efforts of TLP in protesting against the Supreme Court’s verdict.

Rawalpindi-Islamabad Faizabad Interchange, Murree Road, Islamabad highways and roads at Dhoke Kala Khan, Tramri and Karal Chowks were blocked by the protesters where multiple incidents of violence against women and children were reported.

A motorways spokesperson said that routes from Lahore and Kamoke to Rawalpindi were open for traffic. However, the motorway from Kamoke to Lahore was blocked.

Furthermore, roads leading to Taxila, Pir Sohawa, Sarai Alamgir and Gujrat are also blocked.

Due to security concerns, mobile phone services were suspended in Islamabad and other major cities of Punjab the whole day due to which people passed through great difficulties to contact their relatives and friends.

Owing to the prevailing precarious security situation, all government and private educational institutes in the federal capital remain closed on Friday to avoid any untoward situation.

Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus connecting the twin cities was also closed in the wake of the protests. The Diplomatic and Red Zone were sealed by police and additional forces of rangers were deputed at entry and exit points of capital.

According to Islamabad Deputy Commissioner (DC) Hamza Shafqaat, Red Zone, Blue Area and Margalla Road were all clear and open for movement. “No protester has entered constitution avenue through D-chowk. Express Chowk and D-chowk are clear as well,” he said.

IJP Road, a mere 200 meters from the protest was also cleared for traffic on late Friday night.

Additional reporting by Hamid Khan Wazir