Pakistan government, TLP reaches agreement after lengthy discussions

A steering committee, headed by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Khan, has been formed to implement the clauses of the agreement, a report said.

Published: 31st October 2021 06:51 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st October 2021 07:50 PM   |  A+A-

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, a radical Islamist party, chant religious slogans during a protest march toward Islamabad. (File | AP)


ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government and the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) have reached an agreement after lengthy negotiations following days of violent protests by the outfit's members demanding release of their party chief and expulsion of the French ambassador, the negotiating team appointed by Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Sunday.

Prime Minister Khan had tasked a group of influential clerics on Saturday to hold talks with the TLP, whose tens of thousands of members started marching towards Islamabad from Lahore on October 15 after the government announced that it cannot meet its demand for the expulsion of the French ambassador.

The announcement of the agreement was made at a press conference attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ali Mohammad Khan, religious scholar Mufti Muneebur Rehman and TLP members Mufti Ghulam Abbas Faizi and Mufti Mohammad Ameer.

"The government of Pakistan and the TLP had a detailed discussion under the environment of mutual trust, and an agreement has been reached between the two sides," Mufti Muneeb, who led the talks on behalf of the government, was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

"The agreement was reached after sense prevailed over aggression, rationality prevailed over sentiments, and all the participants demonstrated patience," he said.

He, however, did not provide any specific details of the agreement, saying that they will be shared at an "appropriate time."

He said the agreement was not the victory of any individual and that the talks were free of any duress.

Mufti Muneeb also thanked the prime minister for empowering the committee and trusting it to resolve this matter.

He said that the agreement was also endorsed by TLP chief Saad Rizvi.

According to sources, the cleric met Rizvi and convinced him to end protests to avoid bloodshed.

According to a report in The Express Tribune, the delegations held a 12-hour-long meeting to settle the matter between the two sides successfully.

A steering committee, headed by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Khan, has been formed to implement the clauses of the agreement, the report quoted the cleric as saying.

Foreign Minister Qureshi, at the press conference, thanked all the religious scholars, who took part in the negotiations, for playing a positive role to defuse the tension.

He said that the National Security Committee (NSC) decided to prefer talks and resolve the matter through talks.

“In the light of the prime minister's orders and keeping in view of the nation's interest, we realise that powers who want to harm Pakistan could have benefited (from the protests)," Qureshi said.

Meanwhile, TLP workers continued their sit-in at Wazirabad for a third straight day on Sunday, Dawn reported.

Internet and train services remain suspended in Gujranwala, approximately 220 kms from Islamabad, due to the protest.

The TLP, which was established in 2015, started its protest to force the government to free Rizvi and expel the French ambassador as a protest against publishing blasphemous cartoons in France last year.

TLP's founder late Khadim Rizvi's son Saad Rizvi has been detained by the Punjab government since April last under the maintenance of 'public order' (MPO) following the party's protest against the blasphemous caricatures published in France and its demand that the French ambassador be sent back and import of goods from that country be banned.

Nineteen people, including 11 TLP workers and eight policemen, lost their lives since the clashes broke out between the TLP and the police.

According to reports on Saturday, security officials in Pakistan were shocked after it emerged that TLP members reportedly used sub-machine guns (SMGs) against policemen during anti-government protests, prompting the authorities to conclude that the hardline Islamists had been turned into a "militant group".


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