‘They are not enemies,’ Maryam slams use of force against Islamabad protesters

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LAHORE – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz vice president Maryam Nawaz Wednesday urged the government to stop aggressive action against government employees protesting for pay raise in Islamabad.

In a tweet, Maryam said: “For God’s sake, stop the action. Do not subject oppressed government employees to tear gas and shelling and baton charge. They are not enemies, they are poor Pakistanis who demand their rights”.

The situation in the federal capital has turned tense after police and government employees engaged in clashes at Constitution Avenue.

Islamabad police resorted to tear gas shelling to disperse the government employees when they tried to head towards the Parliament House, which falls under the Red Zone area.

Protests are being held at different points in the capital, including Constitution Avenue, D Chowk and outside the National Press Club.

Several employees were arrested by police under Section 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance (MPO).

A number of protesters and security officials were injured in the ongoing clashes while some fell unconscious due to the tear gas.

The government employees, who have also support from over grade 17 officers, demand 40% increase in their salaries.

The All Pakistan Clerks Association and government employees of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh are also demanding increase in their salaries.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed talking to media said that the government was ready to raise the salaries of employees from grade1-16, which makes 95% of total federal staff.

He added that the protesting employees were backing out from their agreement as they now wanted an increase in the salaries of officers of above the grade 17 also. The minister said that raising the salaries of high-level officer will put an additional burden of billions of rupees on the national economy.

Rasheed said that the Centre had nothing to do with the salaries of the provincial employees as the matter did not come under its domain.