Sit-in ended after protesters-govt sign agreement

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Khadim says on assurance of COAS, we are calling off dharna; Twin cities return to normalcy; Government
accepts demands of religious group
Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad

The people of twin cities heaved a sigh of relief as the religious party staging sit-in at Faizabad interchange over the last about three weeks announced Monday to call off its protest following an agreement with the government.
Leader of the religious party Khadim Hussain Rizvi while addressing a press conference at the protest site ordered his followers all over the country to end the sit-ins and go home. Rizvi said he and his followers had set out towards the capital solely for the protection of Khatm-i-Nabuwwat.
He alleged that propaganda had been done against his group to create the impression that they had been sent by someone to Islamabad.
The army chief and his representative Maj Gen Faiz Hameed acted as guarantors for the agreement, Rizvi said.
Hours after the sit-ins were called off, the authorities began releasing protesters arrested during the operation at Faizabad on Saturday.
Punjab Rangers DG Maj Gen Azhar Naveed oversaw the release of protesters and handed over cheques worth Rs1,000 to each released protester as fare for their travel home.
The agreement also includes the condition that the workers of religious parties, arrested since November 6, 2017, will have to be released and cases against them dismissed.
It is also stated in the agreement that an inquiry board will be set up to probe the events surrounding the government action against protesters on November 25 and fix responsibility.
The religious party appreciated restoration of 7-B and 7-C clauses in Khatam-e-Nabuwwat law. It, however, demanded that report of Raja Zafarul Haq may be made public in thirty days and action taken against those responsible as per law of the land. Agencies add: Meanwhile countrywide protests that sprung up after Islamabad operation also dispersed after protest groups and government reached an agreement early Monday.
However, it was agreed in a meeting between army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and PM Abbasi on Sunday that troops would not use force against protesters and would instead provide back-end support.
“On the assurance of the chief of the army staff, we are calling off the sit-in,” the cleric told a crowd of around 2,500 supporters, who have occupied the Faizabad Interchange since November 6.
He said thousands of Tehreek-e-Labbaik followers had staged the protest sit-in solely for the protection of Khatam-e-Nabuwwat [Finality of the Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)].
The document, signed by Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Interior Secretary Arshad Mirza, Khadim Hussein Rizvi, Pir Muhammad Afzal Qadri, Muhammad Waheed Noor and senior ISI official Maj Gen Faiz Hamid, stated that the government has agreed to the terms put forward by the religious group.
In the agreement Tehreek-e-Labbaik said it was only expressing its opinion on the amendment in Khatm-e-Nabuwwat clause and regretted government’s use of force on November 25. Demands of Tehreek-e-Labbaik conceded in the agreement are as follow:
Law Minister Zahid Hamid should resign/removed; Tehreek-e-Labbaik will not issue any ‘Fatwa (religious decree)’ against him. The government has already reinstated amendments to the Election Act 2017 clauses 7A and 7B relating to Khatm-e-Nabuwat. The government should release the Raja Zafarul Haq report within 30 days. Tehreek-e-Labbaik demands prosecution of those responsible for the ‘clerical mistake’ under the law and Constitution of Pakistan.
All the workers and participants of the sit-in who have been arrested by security officials since its start on November 6 should be released and all charges against them be dropped.
An inquiry team should be formed to investigate the security action against Tehreek-e-Labbaik sit-in on November 25. Those responsible should be prosecuted within 30 days. The federal and provincial governments should compensate for all personal and public damages caused in the entire duration of the sit-in. The Punjab government should fulfill all the demands previously agreed upon.
According to the document, the demands were agreed upon after “efforts of COAS and his team”. Tehreek-e-Labbaik thanked the army chief, saying that “he saved the country from a crisis”. In addition to the above, the following demands of TL have also been accepted by the government, according to Khadim Hussain Rizvi:
* A board of clerics led by Pir Muhammad Afzal Qadri will be set up to probe remarks made by Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah against the persecution of Ahmedis. Sanaullah will have to accept the decision made by the board;
* No difficulty will be faced in registering cases under clause 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (blasphemy law);
* No leniency will be given to those convicted by courts for blasphemy;
* No ban will be imposed on the use of loudspeakers;
* The foreign and interior ministries will take steps for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui after taking her mother and sister in confidence
* Two representatives of Tehreek-i-Labaik will be included in the panel assigned to decide changes in the textbook board.
* The officials will push for inclusion of translation of the Holy Quran and chapters about Seerat-un-Nabi and Muslim leaders.

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