“If you think picking up sticks, taking out guns, and attacking policemen will force the state to fulfill your demands you’re wrong,” Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Friday. He was referring to the ongoing protests by the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan.
At a press conference, he said that negotiations with the militant organisation are underway. “There’s no doubt in that. But all the negotiations will take place under the framework of the law and constitution.”
At the Security Council Meeting held in Islamabad earlier in the day, the civil and military leadership extended full support to the law enforcement agencies in Punjab and across Pakistan. “We believe that the sacrifices made by the police for the protection of the people is commendable.”
In the last two weeks, 11 police officers have been martyred and multiple injured in clashes with the TLP workers.
Chaudhry urged TLP marchers to back off. “Go back home. Negotiations can be held from there as well. To the families whose members are at the protests, call your people back. We won’t tolerate this joke for long.”
We don’t want blood on the streets and peace is our utmost priority, but don’t take this as the state’s weakness, the minister warned. “Our security forces are ready. If the need arises, we will go to all extents.”
Chaudhry pointed out that the country’s economy is finally stabilising after long, that too after immense hard work. “At the meeting today, the civil and military leadership was at one page regarding this situation. What these people are doing is a conspiracy against Islam.”
As far as the respect of the Prophet and the religion is concerned, Prime Minister Imran Khan has been the leader to counter Islamophobia on international platforms. He introduced the Rehmatul-lil-Aalameen Authority, the minister added.
Won’t tolerate further breach of law: NSC
Leaders at the National Security Council meeting maintained Friday that they won’t tolerate any further breach of law by the banned militant outfit.
A statement by the Prime Minister’s Office stated that the PM has reiterated that “no group or entity will be allowed to cause public disruption or use violence to pressure the government.”
It was also observed that the TLP was deliberately employing violence against public property, state officials, and ordinary citizens to create instability in the country and that this shall not be tolerated.
The participants of the meeting pointed out that “TLP’s misuse of religion and the issue of Namoos-i-Risalat for political gains” was misleading the people and creating internal discord within the society.
The premier lauded the performance of the Punjab police for their services adding that government is standing behind the law enforcement agencies in their mission to safeguard the people and enforce the law.
Negotiations underway with Saad Rizvi
Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed said Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the nation in a day or two and take the people into confidence regarding the entire situation.
He added that the talks with TLP are still underway but there has been no headway in them. The negotiations are being led by Minister for Religious Affair Noorul Haq Qadri and Rasheed. “Our doors for negotiations are still open. We are talking to Saad Rizvi too.”
Until then, under Article 147 (which allows the provincial government to entrust its functions to the federation), the security of Punjab has been handed over to the Rangers. The PM has given clear instructions that the government won’t tolerate those who challenge the writ of the state and disrupt the peace in the country.
Rasheed revealed that TLP workers promised to reopen the GT Road and head back home. “We are still waiting for them to keep their word.” Meanwhile, thousands of marchers are heading towards Wazirabad.