No talks with TLP until protests called off: Fawad

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Govt in talks with Saad Rizvi, other leaders; Protesters enter Gujranwala; Rangers deployed in eight districts

Staff Reporter
Islamabad

Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry has made it clear that the government will not hold talks with the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan unless its protesting workers vacate streets and hand over those responsible for the deaths of the police personnel to authorities.

“We have made it clear that there will be no talks unless the workers of the proscribed party clear the roads and hand over those involved in the martyrdom of police personnel to the institutions,” the federal minister wrote on his official Twitter handle on Thursday.

The minister went on to urge “patriot” Pakistanis to distance themselves from the protest, advising them to “return to their homes and not become a part of terrorism against the state”.

Meanwhile, thousands of supporters of the banned outfit entered Gujranwala city as they continued their march towards the federal capital, disrupting routine life along the route of the rally and creating severe difficulties for the masses.

In view of the circumstances, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has given a free hand to law enforcement agencies to deal with the TLP protests with an iron fist.

Presiding over a high-level meeting, CM Buzdar directed LEAs to take all possible measures to maintain the law and order situation in the province.

He underscored that the government could not allow anyone to play with the lives and properties of citizens and it is the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order and protect public property and the government will fulfil its responsibility in all circumstances.

At least five police officials have been martyred in clashes against the banned organisation since October 27. Another official who was injured yesterday succumbed to his injuries Thursday.

The policeman, identified as Ghulam Rasool, was posted in the Kasur district.
Some 4,000 TLP workers travelled on the Grand Truck Road in large trucks and buses along with their supplies, as stick-wielding activists of the group guarded the procession from all sides.

The procession continued on a straight path and reached Sheranwala Bagh in Gujranwala’s Old Town.

The TLP demonstrators have blocked the GT Road in Gujranwala district from both sides since Wednesday, causing hardship to the area residents in their commutes. From Kamoke tehsil to Jhelum, cellular services have been suspended for 24 hours.

Educational institutions along GT Road have also been closed because of the uncertain situation.

Meanwhile, Rangers and police personnel took positions near the Chenab river and Wazirabad border.

Security officials plan to stop the TLP activists near the Wazirabad-Chenab river area instead of Gujranwala city, according to police sources.

At a high-level meeting held to review the security situation, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar directed officials to “take every step possible” to establish peace in the province, according to a statement.

He said nobody could be allowed to disturb people’s daily lives, stressing that “the protection of people’s lives and properties is the state’s foremost responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Punjab’s home department has deployed the paramilitary Rangers for 60 days in eight districts of the province, including Lahore, Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Chakwal, Gujrat and Faisalabad.

Meanwhile, PML-N president and opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif criticised the government’s handling of the situation arising out of the TLP rally, saying “federal ministers are giving contradictory statements on the prevailing situation.”

He quoted a minister as saying that Prime Minister Imran Khan “was unaware of [the] 2020 agreement with TLP”.

A TLP spokesman said police had used excessive force against their peaceful rally. However, the group’s claim of deaths of its workers could not be confirmed independently.

In a statement on Thursday, the TLP Central Shura claimed that it was being held responsible for the deaths of three policemen but that they had died in a collision between a police van and a Mazda truck.

 

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