NSC backs Government

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THE National Security Committee (NSC), in its meeting on Friday, put its full weight behind the Government in its efforts to resolve the issue of protest by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in a manner that upholds the rule of law and establishes the writ of the state in all circumstances.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who chaired the crucial meeting, categorically stated that improper demands of the TLP would not be accepted and the Government would neither release its chief Saad Rizvi nor the French Ambassador would be expelled.

The committee unanimously resolved to guard the country’s sovereignty from all internal and external threats and not to allow TLP to challenge the writ of the state in any way.

The deliberations and decisions of the Committee have brought clarity in the midst of a state of confusion created by conflicting statements of the cabinet members and therefore, might have sent an unambiguous message to the other side.

The analysis of the issues involved and the policy statement has put at rest wild speculations that gained further currency when the Government accepted in black and white all demands of the proscribed organization including expulsion of the French Ambassador, boycott of French products, release of detainees of the party and reconsideration of its decision to ban the party.

The participants noted that TLP’s violence had ended up furthering the agenda of sectarian elements and external enemies of the state.

It was pointed out that despite the overwhelming majority of over 1.5 billion Muslims globally, holding utmost love and respect for Holy Prophet (PBUH), no such violent agitation had taken place in any other Muslim country.

This viewpoint reflects the ground situation but the question arises why this was not taken into consideration while entering into a formal agreement with the TLP and why the Interior Minister reiterated the possibility of acceptance of these demands in his initial contacts with the leadership of the group when it started the latest march towards Islamabad.

The provocative language used by some ministers and ruling out possibility of talks also compounded the situation further.

In this backdrop, the National Security Committee has done well by making it absolutely clear that the doors for dialogue have not been shut.

It has also emphasized that the government recognized the right of peaceful protest of all Pakistanis but at the same time the committee members were unanimous that the TLP was deliberately employing violence against public property, state officials, and ordinary citizens to create instability in the country and that would not be tolerated.

All organs of the state stood ready to act as per the law to protect the life and property of citizens.

It is, indeed, the duty of the personnel of the law-enforcing agencies to take legitimate measures to protect life and property of the citizens and they must not be targeted with lethal weapons like machine guns.

The Committee has tightly appreciated the services and sacrifices of the members of the law-enforcing agencies and hopefully this would be followed by practical steps for well-being of the affected families and treatment of the injured personnel at best possible medical facilities.

The NSC has also put the record straight by acknowledging that the TLP had adopted the ploy of violent street agitation on numerous occasions since 2017 and made unrealistic demands each time, solely as a tool to gain political strength.

In the process, TLP’s actions caused public disorder, serious economic losses to the country, besides boosting the morale of other terrorist outfits seeking to challenge the state writ.

This narrative augurs well to dispel the impression created by some circles that the organization was created to counter some political parties and used against the elected government time and again to achieve ‘desired’ results.

It is hoped that the clear-cut policy statement of the Committee would help the other side to realize the gravity of the situation and encourage it to enter into meaningful talks for bringing the ongoing agitation and protest to an amicable end.

The NSC has given a go ahead signal for negotiations with the TLP but making it absolutely clear that these should be within the bounds of the law and without offering leniency for any crimes committed by the TLP operatives.

However, in the prevailing tense environment the process of dialogue might not produce any tangible result without active involvement of religious leadership.

 

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