ISLAMABAD: As part of planned security in the Pakistani capital for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting on Sunday, Islamabad will observe a public holiday on Saturday, December 18, as well as Monday, December 20, the office of the district magistrate has announced.
The holidays come as Islamabad hosts the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers on December 19. The meeting’s focus is on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan where the United Nations is warning nearly 23 million people –- about 55 percent of the population –- face extreme levels of hunger, with nearly 9 million at risk of famine as winter takes hold in the impoverished, landlocked country.
“18th and 20th December, 2021 are hereby declared as local holiday within the revenue limits of Islamabad Capital Territory,” a statement from the office of the district magistrate said on Friday, adding that hiking trails and a number of metro bus stations would be closed from Saturday to Monday, both days inclusive.
“Coming Monday and Saturday will be local holiday in Islamabad for schools and private offices,” Muhammed Hamza Shafqaat, DC Islamabad, said on Twitter.
Coming Monday and Saturday will be local holiday in Islamabad for schools and private offices. Hiking trails in margalla will stay closed. Metro stations (Pak sect to Shaheed e milat sect) will stay closed till Monday.
— Muhammed Hamza Shafqaat (@hamzashafqaat) December 17, 2021
As per the security plan, about 5,100 police, Pakistan Army, paramilitary Rangers, and Frontier Corps (FC) officers will be deployed in and around the Red Zone to ensure the security of the visiting delegates from OIC member countries, police said, saying guards would also provide security cover to delegates en route from the airport to the Red Zone.
Speaking to reporters, interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said the decisions had been taken to ensure security for the "high-profile" conference: "To prevent any mishap, we have taken help from the Pakistan Army and other security agencies."
He said mobile phone services would not be suspended, saying the decision was taken after concerns were raised in foreign media that closing down cellular phone networks would make it difficult for journalists to cover the conference.
The Cabinet Division also declared Monday, December 20, a local holiday in Islamabad on account of the OIC conference. A press release issued by the division stated that all federal ministries and divisions along with their attached departments and other organisations and offices of the federal government located in Islamabad would remain closed on Monday.
An order issued from the office of the inspector general of police (IGP), Islamabad, said leaves of all officials of the executive and ministerial staff of the capital police stood canceled and they were directed to report to duty. The order said no officer or official would be allowed leave until December 20, 2021, except in the case of “extreme emergency.”