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Parks in Rawalpindi city closed over security concerns

Parks in Rawalpindi city closed over security concerns

RAWALPINDI: All parks in the city areas remained closed on Sunday but in the cantonment areas they were open to the visitors as usual.

An official of the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) told Dawn that the public parks in the city areas had been closed due to security concerns.

However, in the cantonment areas, Ayub Park run by the Army Heritage Foundation, Jinnah Park near the district courts, Racecourse Park and others were open.

Visitors to the Nawaz Sharif Park, Liaquat Bagh, Commercial Market Park and all the 40 small parks in residential areas of the city remained closed.

PHA officials deployed in the parks did not let the visitors in for morning and evening walks.

Children were affected the most as they went to the parks to enjoy the holiday but after being turned away had to confine themselves to their houses.

“I went for a morning walk in Nawaz Sharif Park in Shamsabad but the officials deployed there told me that the park had been closed due to security concerns,” said Mohammad Jehangir, a retired government official.

He said he was a diabetic patient and used to go to the park for a walk every day. He said on Sunday he was left with no other option but to walk on different roads. He said the government should provide a peaceful environment to the citizens.

Mehmood Raja, a resident of Satellite Town, said though the condition of the Commercial Market Park was not good, a large number of people visited it for walk. He said going on a walk in the morning or in the evening was necessary to maintain blood pressure and sugar level in the human body.

Rafia Mazhar, a resident of Satellite Town D. Block, said she visited the park on a daily basis but for the last two days the park remained closed. “I had to walk on the road which is not suitable for women,” she said.

Many people who were unaware of the closure reached the parks only to find them closed on Sunday morning.

“I never go to Ayub Park or any other park in the cantonment areas as it is time consuming and also costly because the visitors have to buy tickets for the swings and other facilities which are available for free in the parks in the city areas,” said Israr Ahmed Malik, a resident of Sadiqabad.

He also said the government should open the parks on every Sunday as children had only a day for outdoor activities.

A senior official of the PHA told Dawn that the parks had been closed on the directives of Commissioner Rawalpindi Azmat Mehmood. However, the commissioner could not be contacted for his comment.

PHA acting director general Raja Shaukat Mehmood told Dawn that security threats had forced the PHA to close the parks. In reply to a question, he said a decision to reopen the parks would be taken after checking the updates with the authorities concerned.

Ayub Park administration’s spokesman retired Lt-Col Shahzad Mehmood said the park remained open and people visited it as usual on Sunday. He said to cope with security arrangements the management had increased security in and around the park.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2017

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