Pak troops on high alert for Red Zone security as Imran Khan refuses to budge

As Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan ratcheted up pressure against the government by vowing to lead the protest march into the Red Zone on Tuesday, the Pakistani Army put its troops on alert.

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Aug 19, 2014, 18:25 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Islamabad: As Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan ratcheted up pressure against the government by vowing to lead the protest march into the Red Zone on Tuesday, the Pakistani Army put its troops on alert as a part of the measures taken to beef up the security in Islamabad.

Imran Khan, who had yesterday handed a 48-hour ultimatum to Nawaz Sharif to resign, on Monday night threatened that if Nawaz didn`t submit his resignation within the deadline, he will lead the protest marchers into the federal capital`s Red Zone that includes key government installations like the presidential and prime minister`s offices as well as the Western embassies. 

The government has taken extreme measures to ensure security at the Red Zone, even roping in the Army troops, which have been deployed in the federal capital in line with the Article 245 of the Constitution., reported the Dawn. 

However, in case any untoward incident takes place, the troops can`t act in support of the Islamabad police unless ordered by the Chief Commissioner Islamabad.

Also, Lieutenant General Qamar Bajwa, commander 10 corps, has contacted top officials of the Islamabad Police for coordination to ensure the security o the Red Zone, added the report.

According to a report in the Dawn, Calling his Azadi march as democratic and constitutional, Imran tweeted that it would be a defining moment for Pakistan when the marchers would cross the Red Zone.

Speaking in a rally on Monday night, Khan said, "The world will witness the power of the Pakistani nation tomorrow (Tuesday)”, the Dawn reported.

Khan sounded adamant as he said that the march wouls take place at any cost, even if it claimed lives.

He however warned the Islamabad police not to engage in the violence, adding that the government will be responsible for any bloodshed.

The government has told the protesters not to enter the highly strategic Red Zone, which is thronged with riot police and paramilitary forces.

Meanwhile, the government committees formed yesterday in order to defuse current political tension, failed to establish contacts with PTI & PAT leaders, said Leader of Opposition Khurshid Shah.

In what are the biggest anti-government challenges yet to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who took office last year in the first democratic transfer of power, Imran Khan of the PTI and PAT leadert Tahirul Qadri, have been leading huge protest rallies against the government for last five days, demanding his resignation on the claims that last year`s elections were rigged.  
The anti-government protests threaten Pakistan`s political stability which has in past seen several coups.