The deputy commissioner of Rawalpindi on Thursday granted the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) “conditional” permission to stage a rally in the city’s Faizabad locality tomorrow (Nov. 26).
The four-page notification comprises 56 points and emphasizes that stringent security must be ensured due to prevailing security threats to party chief Imran Khan. Citing the arrival of the England cricket team to Rawalpindi the next day—Nov. 27—it has required that the PTI vacate the locality no later than Saturday night to ensure “necessary security cover” for the visiting players.
According to the notification, the rally organizers have been directed to ensure strict security, especially during the speech of Khan, to “avoid any untoward incident.” It also directs the PTI to ensure Khan does not deviate from a prescribed route decided by law enforcement agencies, nor does he use the sunroof of his vehicle at any point during the rally. All participants, reads the notification, must remain within the rally venue and Allama Iqbal Park cannot be used for any gathering after the rally.
Additionally, the permit requires the PTI to adhere to the Punjab Sound System (Regulation) Ordinance, 2015 and to ensure no music or speeches are made during prayers/azan timings. It has directed the PTI to provide easily-identifiable volunteers at all entry/exit points to curb the presence of “unwanted” people and said all participants would be searched by security personnel.
Banning the display or firearms of the use of fireworks, the permit has restricted the use of banners without permission of competent authorities. It has directed organizers to coordinate with Traffic Police to ensure smooth flow of traffic and instructed them to ensure their availability until the gathering has concluded. The notification also calls on the PTI to ensure 80-feet distance between the stage and the audience and has emphasized that “anti-state” slogans are strictly prohibited.
“No speech against constitutional offices/armed forces/judiciary is allowed,” it says, adding effigies of any political, religious party or person also cannot be burnt. The permit has also directed the PTI to ensure proper lighting arrangements and arrange backup electricity supply for the event, adding organizers must give in writing to police the names and number of people allowed on stage for security clearance.
The PTI, per the permit, must also provide in writing the number of participants expected at the rally. The organizers, it states, would be held responsible for any loss of human life during the rally and has directed them to record the entire event and provide an unedited copy to police and district administration. The organizers, states the notification, must arrange a separate enclosure for media. It must also, it says, not use any drones to record the gathering.
The notification has warned that the party and the organizers could face legal proceedings in case of a violation of any of the prescribed guidelines.
Meanwhile, the capital administration has refused to grant permission to the PTI to use the Shakarparian Parade Ground as a heliport, stressing it is located in a highly sensitive area. The PTI leadership had also approached the Army for permission to use the Parade Ground, but a representative of the GHQ through a letter asked the party leadership to seek permission from the Capital Development Authority/federal government, as the area fell under their jurisdiction.