Govt to fulfill its commitments with TLP: Rasheed Accounts of TLP seminaries to be unfreezed

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Ijaz Kakakhel

Islamabad

 

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Monday assured that the government would fulfill its commitments it made with the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and said that TLP chief Saad Rizvi was very cooperative during talks.

The government had created an understanding with TLP, said Interior Minister while addressing a press conference.

The minister further said that the agreement between government and TLP would be discussed during a federal cabinet meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s return from Saudi Arabia.

He said that he had requested the government to let the Punjab government and Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Qadri lead the government’s negotiation team. “But Rizvi insisted that he wanted to talk to me.”

Shaikh Rasheed said that TLP is the third-largest party in Punjab and should be allowed to do politics. “I met Saad Rizvi outside jail in Lahore again.

TLP’s main demand is the expulsion of the French convoy but we have told them that the matter will be taken to the Assembly after approval from the cabinet.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to return from his visit to Saudi Arabia today (Tuesday) after which the interior ministry will meet and update him on the situation.

He said that the TLP workers have been released and matter of banning party and removing names of party leadership from 4th schedule will be discussed with the party.

He said he had found the TLP’s incarcerated chief, Saad Rizvi, to be “very cooperative” compared to other leaders of the proscribed organization. The interior minister said the premier had instructed

his principal secretary before leaving for the visit to ask the Federal Board of Revenue to unfreeze the accounts of TLP madressahs and to allow them to open new ones.

It would be better that way because the FBR would know about the funds being received and spent by the madressahs, he explained .

Ahmed said he wanted to conclude the matter once and for all because “something new happens every six months and people face difficulties” — a reference to the TLP’s frequent protests which brought life in the twin cities to a halt. “It is my wish that matters conclude in the way they have been discussed with the TLP. We will fulfil our commitments.

If something bad happens somewhere, what can I do?” Regarding Rizvi’s release, the interior minister said there were legal lacunae that the TLP chief “understands”. There is a legal process that we will follow. We will talk to the prime minister after his return tomorrow,” he reiterated.

Replying to another question about the damage caused during TLP protests, Ahmed said: “Vandalism is illegal. No one should cause damage because Pakistani organizations have been banned internationally.

Interior Minister shared that he had signed an agreement with the TLP and would present it in the National Assembly.

The interior minister, who addressed a press conference after leading a government team in negotiations with representatives of the TLP, including its detained chief, in Islamabad, later tweeted: “We have released 350 TLP workers up to now and we are still waiting to open both sides of road of Muridke as per the decision with the TLP.”

Talking about the blockage of roads, Shaikh Rasheed said that one side of the Muridke road has been opened and the other will soon too.

The minister, ecstatic about Pakistan’s historic win against India in the T-20 World Cup match Sunday, said that he would have declared Monday a public holiday if he could. “For me, the team has won the cup. Congratulations to the nation.”

He revealed that he bought his ticket to watch the match live. Rasheed was called back to Pakistan from his vacation in Dubai by PM Imran Khan over the TLP situation.

About Afghan visas, the minister said that the interior ministry is in contact with Kabul. Rasheed said that visas for 400 people at the Torkham border have been increased to 5,000.

The government has abolished stickers and online visas. The policy for free visas has been withdrawn too.

Ahmed said the government’s negotiations with the TLP went “very well”. He disclosed that he had requested to not be included in the government’s negotiating committee because “it is not the work of the interior ministry but the Punjab government”, but the idea was rejected on the insistence of Rizvi and another TLP leader, Ghulam Ghaus Baghdadi.

“We are keeping our word. There is information that one road has been opened which is very good.

We will fulfil the promises we made to them.”
The minister said the team would meet Prime Minister Imran Tuesdayafter he returned from his visit to Saudi Arabia and also bring up the matter in Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

The federal government released more than 350 activists of the TLP, besides announcing that the cases against others would be withdrawn by Wednesday (Oct 27).

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