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Public parks in Rawalpindi remain closed

Public parks in Rawalpindi remain closed

RAWALPINDI: Following the suicide attack on a public park in Lahore, Rawalpindi’s Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) on Tuesday closed all the parks in the city for a week. A senior PHA official said park employees and gardeners have been asked to improve the condition of the parks while they are closed.

The PHA also cancelled the Cultural Mela at Shamsabad Park, which was scheduled to begin on March 30, for two weeks.

The official said the parks were closed after they received directives from the provincial government warning of terrorist activity in big cities.

He said the spring festival scheduled to begin on March 30 had been cancelled, and the new dates would be announced soon.

Meanwhile, park visitors were surprised when they turned up to find park gates locked.

Mohammad Hafeez, a Shamsabad resident, said he visits the park for a morning walk, but was informed by the park gatekeeper on Tuesday that nobody would be allowed to enter until they received further orders.

He said the government had failed to take measures to protect residents, and instead took artificial measures after incidents took place. He remarked that it was strange that parks were closed after the Lahore attack, when there were no security measures before the attack took place.

Nazir Ahmed, who lives in Satellite Town, said terrorist activity in the province had made visiting parks a problem. He said security in the garrison city needed to be improved so residents could feel secure. He said that, with measures such as locking park gates, insecurity prevailed in the city.

Ayub National Park and Jinnah Park have not been closed, as they are not under the administrative control of the PHA. An Ayub National Park management official said they were taking extra security measures for the visitors.

The official said it was not possible to stop people from coming to the park for their morning or evening walk – which is the reason most people visit the park. He said security officials have been asked to check visitors properly for a few days, rather than close the park.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2016

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