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March 16, 2009

All routes to Punjab from NWFP sealed off


March 16, 2009

PESHAWAR: Like other parts of the country, NWFP also remained cut-off from the Punjab province on Sunday as the provincial government had sealed off all the routes to stop lawyers and political activist from reaching Islamabad for the long march and sit-in.

The NWFP has six major entry points to Punjab, including Attock bridge near Khairabad, Khushal Garah near Kohat, Darya Khan bridge near Dera Ismail Khan, Swabi-Ghazi route and Motorway.

All these routes were sealed off either by deployment of heavy contingent of police or by parking heavy containers on the roads. The government has also stopped inter-provincial transport that caused suffering to commuters.

The authorities, earlier in the day, closed the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway to stop protestors from using Swabi-Tarbela route while later at 12 noon they put containers at the entry point of the Motorway near Peshawar to stop the entrance to vehicles on motorway.

The Grand Trunk (GT) Road was also blocked at two places-Taru Jaba and at Attock Bridge. At Taru Jaba, the authorities did not place containers but put barbed wires there, not allowing people to cross in. Locals told The News that after strong protest by the people of adjoining areas, the police allowed them to cross but that too after a strict checking.

However, at Attock bridge the police placed containers and completely blocked the road for vehicular traffic.

The administration stopped inter-provincial transport to Punjab and other cities and passengers coming from and leading to Punjab were left stranded due to the absence of transport. Most of the long routes vehicles were seen parked at Peshawar Bus Terminal due to the closure of roads, causing innumerable suffering to people.

Talking to The News, Haji Ihsanullah, NWFP Public Transport Legal Action Committee chairman, said the transporters suffered heavy losses due to closure of all main roads. He said that from Peshawar Bus Terminal,

approximately 475 busses move for other stations, including down country daily. However, he said only 20 busses left for the out stations today (Sunday) that too early in the morning.

He said that besides losses to restaurant owners, drivers, cleaners, petrol pumps and mechanics, heavy losses inflicted on the transport owners as per trip they lost Rs6 to 7 thousand. Criticizing the provincial government, he said it should not have closed the transport within the province, if it was not allowing people to proceed towards Punjab. He said that even in the dictatorial rule of General Musharraf they never witnessed such high-handedness of the authorities.

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