Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration officials on Friday rejected a formal request by Minhajul Quran International (MQI) to hold a rally in front of parliament, citing overcrowding and capacity as bottlenecks.
Instead, the administration suggested a change of venue for the MQI’s January 14 rally, proposing the lush fields of the F-9 Park near the centre of the city, much farther from D-Chowk. MQI leaders immediately shot down the proposal.
Sources in the Islamabad administration informed The Express Tribune that the chief of MQI’s Punjab chapter, Ahmed Nawaz Anjum, had formally requested the Islamabad administration to allow the party to hold a peaceful rally at D-chowk.
A delegation of MQI leaders, including Ahmed Nawaz Anjum and the head of the party’s Islamabad chapter Syed Bashir Hussain, filed the plea at the office of the chief commissioner Islamabad on Friday. The administration, however, rejected the appeal after analysing the situation.
Justifying their decision, the Islamabad administration stated that the place could not accommodate more than four million people.
“If you bring such a huge amount of people, it would exceed Islamabad’s total population,” said an official of the Islamabad administration.
Meanwhile, the authority suggested an alternative venue for the MQI. The administration proposed that the rally could be held at the F-9 Park located towards the outskirts of the city which could accommodate the expected number of participants.
In an attempt to persuade the Islamabad Capital Territory administration authorities the MQI leader stated the arrangements chalked out for the rally. The MQI officials assured the city administration that the organisation would bear all expenses on the arrangements for the stay of the participants in Islamabad. Amjum informed the authority that the participants would be provided with make shift tents, beds and other necessities.
They further informed the authorities that the MQI had arranged mobile lavatories for the participants of the rally which would be deployed near the venue and along the rally’s route. The MQI officials insisted they would take complete responsibility for maintain the peace of the rally.
Following the disagreement and evidently unmoved in their demand to hold a rally at the Parliament House the MQI leaders decided to take the matter up to the interior ministry to decide.
“We assured the administration and we want to assure everyone else that our long march will be peaceful and non-violent,” said the media secretary of the MQI, Ghulam Ali.
The MQI officials later in the day met the Interior Ministry Secretary of the Siddiq Akbar to acquire permission for the rally however, the request was yet again rejected by the ministry.
The matter was later taken up by Interior Minister Rehman Malik who is due to meet representatives of the party on Monday January 7 to come to an acceptable solution.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2013.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated that F-9 Park is located on city’s outskirts. The error has been fixed.