Staff Reporter Lahore
Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid said on Sunday that the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan has agreed to call off its march to Islamabad after a “partially successful dialogue” with the leadership of the banned outfit.
Rashid said the talks with the banned outfit were “almost complete”. As per the talks, the TLP will not march towards Islamabad but stage a “peaceful” sit-in on GT Road in Muridke, about 50km away from Lahore, while the government will release the party workers detained over the past few days.
The minister also promised that the issue pertaining to the expulsion of the French envoy to Pakistan will be tabled in the National Assembly as agreed upon in the previous agreement.
Tnterior minister said the cases against the TLP workers will be withdrawn by Tuesday or Wednesday. He said the talks with the TLP lasted more than eight hours, hoping that situation will return to normalcy soon.
“The administration has been told to remove all the containers except those placed on GT Road,” he added. In response to a question whether Saad Rizvi will be released, Rashid said, ‘Inshallah’.
Meanwhile, Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri said the government would “seriously consider” the demands of the banned outfit. He said the police will not touch the protesters who have agreed to remain peaceful.
“Roads will be kept open,” he said, adding that the protesters will end the sit-in being held in Muridke peacefully after the demands are met.
The government has sought two days to meet one of the primary demands of the TLP i.e. the release of its chief Saad Rizvi and removal of his name from the Fourth Schedule.
Sources said initially, Saad Rizvi, who is detained in Kot Lakhpat Jail, refused to meet the government’s negotiation team on Saturday night, but then he joined the dialogue via telephone.
The TLP said it would call off its protest in return for the release of Rizvi and other TLP activists from jails and the removal of the TLP chief’s name from the Fourth Schedule.
The TLP also demanded of the government to drop terror charges against its leadership besides withdrawing the appeal filed against the Lahore High Court order allowing the release of Rizvi.
The government has two days to meet these demands and till then the TLP rally that had reached Muridke on Saturday will stay there and stage a peaceful sit-in.
The banned outfit said that it would not call off the protest till the acceptance of their demands citing a lack of trust in the government. “We, however, will not move past Muridke in line with the agreement,” the TLP leadership added.
Addressing a press conference in the federal capital, Sheikh Rashid said that the government team held talks with the outfit leaders for eight hours.
The minister added that he had a one-on-one conversation with Saad Rizvi and the negotiations turned out to be successful. We will also review the charges imposed under the 4th schedule, he said.
He assured the public that government is taking steps to improve law and order situation and directed concerned officials to remove containers from GT Road to facilitate the masses.
“The negotiators of the proscribed organization will visit the Interior Ministry on Monday at 10am [to hold a second round of talks],” said Rasheed.
“I held a one-on-one meeting with Saad Hussain Rizvi,” he said, adding that the government will take up the issue relating to the expulsion of France’s ambassador to the National Assembly.
Terming the activists of TLP as “political workers”, the minister said that the government did not want to clash with religious groups.
The government’s negotiation team comprised Sh Rasheed, Qadri and Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat.
To a question about ISI chief, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad has said that Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed was still the director-general of Inter-Services Intelligence.
Earlier, Sheikh Rasheed had said that notification regarding the appointment of DG ISI would be issued by Friday; however, the notification could not be issued.
During Sunday’s presser, a journalist asked the interior minister who was ISI chief, Sheikh Rasheed quickly responded “Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed is still the ISI chief.”