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November 10, 2019

Team Islamabad: panic begets panic


November 10, 2019

Crowd management is a tricky business. Large numbers of people often follow their political leaders to Islamabad from all of its entry points, though their favored route is through GT Road.

All of them bring with them some complaints that they believe will be heard in the federal capital where decision-makers sit. However, things worsen when the city managers fail to control these crowds.

In 2014, PTI staged a sit-in at D-Chowk and the city remained containered for days, schools closed and offices shut. Then in 2017, TLP staged a sit-in at Faizabad and both Rawalpindi and Islamabad continued suffering heavy blockades for weeks. Such situations create panic among citizens.

District administration shoulders the responsibility to protect citizens against panic. After constant failures, the administration has succeeded in performing this task in the current protest led by JUI-F. By many estimates, this time the number of protestors was immensely high.

Basically, panic is created for citizens when the administration is panicked. On the past occasions, they were panicked so that they themselves containered the main roads and entry points. But now, no roads were closed and schools and colleges remained open. In extensive interviews and interactions, I asked of Chief Commissioner Aamir Ahmed Ali, Inspector General of Police Aamir Zulfiqar, Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat and other officers about the secret. As far as I could understand, the secret lies in the sense of responsibility these gentlemen feel about their job.

Aamir Ahmed Ali visited the protest at many occasions and tried to convince the protestors to keep warn and save themselves from harshness of weather. It was his vision that a strategy was designed not to let lives of the citizens be disturbed by this gathering. His deputy Mr. Shafqaat even attended the funeral of an elderly protestor who died of heart attack and stayed close to their leadership, whom he had brought to table long before start of the protest to sign an agreement that they will not disturb peace and tranquility of the city.

For IGP, protection of the protesters is his top priority. He is a wise man. He positioned his men so that cultural sensitivities of the protestors are not hurt.

When these sensitivities are hurt, protestors panic and in panic they resort to violence but it did not happen. The IGP also knows how to respect the protestors, whom he believes are as much citizens of Pakistan as us.

Above all, all of them and other related institutes worked as a team. They had tremendous coordination, which resulted into peace and order in town despite presence of thousands of protestors. They have proved themselves to be the best team and deserve praise. Mr. Shafqaat used to tell citizens on social media that it is just his job, which he is paid for, and there is no need for excessive appreciation. But it is not so simple a statement to made as we are used to the mess that is created in Rawalpindi with a minutest of unusual public gatherings. It is job of administration of Rawalpindi too to keep the city open in such situations but something is missing.

We believe that is having an extra-ordinary team of city administrators and recommend in this space that they be acknowledged duly for the splendid job they have done.

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