26th January 2021
By Ayesha Mir
Citizens of Islamabad gathered at the F-9 Park on Tuesday, January 26, to protest the government’s plan of mortgaging the public park, against a loan of Rs500 billion, with an understanding that any attempt to lease the space will undoubtedly lead to commercialization, which would bar free access to the public.
The protest was organized by journalist Amna Rizwan Ali, and was attended by prominent civil rights activists, including Tahira Abdullah. MNA Mehnaz Aziz, who also joined the demonstration, stated that the government has an obligation to first present its plans to the Parliament for approval, rather than resort to secrecy and in-cabinet meetings.
Because of the protest, many citizens, especially the youth, joined in and spoke out about being deeply disturbed by this plan, even though they have been firm supporters of PTI.
They say the park is their only source of recreation, and that it is vital for environmental enrichment in a city of concrete.
Some citizens were especially outraged by the government’s readiness to put a price on anything they could get their hands on.
Meanwhile, as the protest went on, Prime Minister Imran Khan during a Senate meeting the same day decided to roll back the mortgage plan.
The protesters claim that this only happened because of their outrage, and demonstration, and insist that they will continue to resist any efforts aimed at altering the master plan of the city.