D-Chowk protesters call off sit-in after 'successful negotiations' with govt

Published: March 30, 2016
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Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar addresses a news conference in Islamabad on Wednesday. EXPRESS NEWS SCREEN GRAB

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar addresses a news conference in Islamabad on Wednesday. EXPRESS NEWS SCREEN GRAB

ISLAMABAD: Four days into their protest outside at D-Chowk, supporters of the former Punjab governor’s assassin have agreed to call off their sit-in and disperse following a ‘successful’ round of negotiations with the government, Express News reported on Wednesday.

According to sources, the government has agreed to some of the demands of pro-Mumtaz Qadri supporters, which include the release of non-violent protesters, no amendment in blasphemy laws, and withdrawal of cases against ulema to be considered, among others.

However, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar denied any written agreement with the demonstrators.

“No written agreement or otherwise was reached between the protesters’ leaders and the government, neither anyone from the government was mandated to do so,” he said while speaking at a news conference after successful negotiations with the representatives of some religious parties.

Several thousand protesters had marched in Islamabad Sunday, clashing with security forces before setting up camp outside key government buildings along the capital’s main Constitution Avenue.

No one will be allowed to hold protest at D-Chowk: Nisar

The interior minister said the government will not allow any person or party to hold political rallies or protests in the Red Zone area of Islamabad.

“I as an interior minister have decided it will be prohibited from now on to hold rally or political conferences at the D-Chowk area,” he said.

Talking about the protests, the country’s top security czar said a few violent people had used the situation to politicise the matter. “Some scholars had decided to mark the 40th day of Qadri’s execution peacefully, but miscreants took an advantage of the situation and started marching towards Red Zone.”

He went on to say, “Time has come that we decided people or party who threaten the state by occupying this area will not be allowed to do so.”

Commenting on those who have been arrested during the four-day protests, Nisar said whoever broke the law will be prosecuted accordingly.

“Every single person who broke the law, many of whom have been arrested, will be prosecuted. However, the bystanders or people who were not involved in breaking of law will be released soon,” he said.

Earlier during the day, protesters said they would not end their days-long sit-in and were “willing to die”, as armed security forces readied to clear the camp.

D-Chowk protesters given until 10am to disperse

PHOTO: AFP

The protesters – who numbered some 25,000 at their peak – had gathered in support of Qadri, who was hanged in late February five years after he assassinated later Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer over his calls to reform the country’s blasphemy laws.

The government gave the demonstrators an ultimatum to leave late Tuesday, but it went unheeded, prompting the government to issue a second call saying security forces would begin an operation to clear the area Wednesday morning.

“If the protesters do not disperse peacefully tonight, then we will evict them in the morning in front of everyone,” Nisar told reporters late Tuesday.

PHOTO: AFP

Sit-in at Red Zone in Islamabad lacks definitive purpose: Imran

A police source said more than 7,000 security forces were poised to clear the sit-in, including the paramilitary Rangers and Frontier Corps with reinforcements from the Punjab Police.

Army troops had been standing guard at government buildings near the protest camp.

Protest inside red zone turns into a sit-in

Qadri’s hanging, hailed as a “key moment” by analysts in country’s war on religious extremism, has become a flashpoint for the deep divisions in the conservative Muslim country.

His funeral earlier this month drew tens of thousands in an extremist show of force that alarmed moderate Muslims in the country, while the call to hang Bibi along with the Easter attack in Lahore has underscored a growing sense of insecurity for Pakistan’s minorities.

“It’s a sense of great grief, sorrow and fear,” Shamoon Gill, spokesperson for the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, told AFP.

The Lahore blast had left Christians feeling that “no place is safe”, he said, while the “mob situation” in Islamabad was “dangerous”.

“They are a serious threat to Asia Bibi’s life… there is a chance the government could bow down to pressure on this issue,” he warned.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Procatinator
    Mar 30, 2016 - 2:25PM

    Recharge all the public property damages done by these idiots from their leaders!Recommend

  • observer
    Mar 30, 2016 - 4:11PM

    How can you have the ‘Objectives Resolution’ and not Islamic Supremacy?

    How can there be a 2nd Amendment and Ahmadis in important positions at the same time?

    The State is guilty of confusing the masses.Recommend

  • TooTrue
    Mar 30, 2016 - 7:05PM

    Government if this story is true then shame on you for accepting these demands. You should learn not to negotiate with criminals and terrorists.Recommend

  • SK
    Mar 30, 2016 - 7:11PM

    This is Muk Mukka of a coward mis-managed government. Who will pay for the losses of property? NS and his family should deposit this to the exchequer from the loot and plunder they had been doing for last three years!Recommend

  • curious2
    Mar 30, 2016 - 7:18PM

    The government gave the demonstrators an ultimatum to leave late Tuesday, but it went unheeded
    .
    That’s what happens when you have no credibility.Recommend

  • Bhangi
    Mar 30, 2016 - 7:18PM

    They should have been kicked out candy negotiated with. Recommend

  • syed & syed
    Mar 30, 2016 - 7:32PM

    It is easy to distinguish the Mullas giving hate speeches and also those involved in damaging property. They should be rounded up and apart from prosecution damages be recovered from them. Ch. Nisar should have been bold since he showed soft corner in practically all violence cases except in Karachi and that too against MQMRecommend

  • Iron hand
    Mar 30, 2016 - 7:42PM

    Should have given them what they most want – make them all martyrs. Had them all gathered in one place.Recommend

  • imran ali
    Mar 30, 2016 - 7:48PM

    unbelievable..few hundred goons have destroyed the writ of state.. If .NGO,MQM or civil society holds dharna in d-chowk…see the reaction of Ch.Nisar..Recommend

  • Acorn Guts
    Mar 30, 2016 - 7:54PM

    Govt. sending out the wrong message to these fanatics yet again.Recommend

  • Saleem
    Mar 30, 2016 - 7:59PM

    They must be held responsible for damaging common property, which is owned by the people and not those who are just trying to protect their skin.Recommend

  • SRahman
    Mar 30, 2016 - 8:12PM

    Once Bhutto gave in to the religious mafia, country started on the path of social destruction. Zia made it worse and left the innocent countrymen helpless against them. Whole society has been polarized and fanatical because of our political leadership and the establishment. They keep on giving up and bow to these culprits. Unfortunately, we take one step forward and 5 step backward and expect that things will improve with time. Hallucination at its best!Recommend

  • American
    Mar 30, 2016 - 8:25PM

    Only in Pakistan…murderers are glorified, and government negotiates with them…Recommend

  • Mar 30, 2016 - 9:31PM

    What has happened in Islamabad D chowk sitin drop seen, is good outcome for government and country. Govt saved itself from an other Lal Masjid tragedy, because Mullahs wants to repeat that episode again so that once again they would take control of power. Was any chalum happened in our country after 26 days. That was only eye wash ,every body had seen the cruel and showrd smile on the face of Mulana who said that yes we cannot make Govt but can topple over it.The people and country must know these types of cheaters and be aware of them.Recommend

  • imran ali
    Mar 30, 2016 - 9:59PM

    People should forget Lahore blast and Islamabad dharna…I promised to nation ,I will catch the killer of Imran Farook soon ..Ch.NisarRecommend

  • asdasd
    Mar 30, 2016 - 10:32PM

    Recharge all the public property damages done by alert(“hello world!”); these idiots from their leaders Recommend

  • Anjum Malik
    Mar 30, 2016 - 11:10PM

    Mr. Interior Minister, Please note that unless you people don’t start obeying law, no one will do so. Please don’t think that government will break the law and people will obey it.Recommend

  • BlackHat
    Mar 30, 2016 - 11:17PM

    For all the PM bashing, he was not being untruthful about “lenience”!Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Mar 30, 2016 - 11:28PM

    Thanks Pir Amin ul hasnat Shah for convincing the religious parties to end the dharna. Sane move by the government to not use force and ending it peacefully. Recommend

  • syed & syed
    Mar 31, 2016 - 2:19AM

    @imran C. Nisar and his master Nawa is after MQM and bifurcating PPP. You showed your strength in the Mulla Bhangra on D ChowkRecommend

  • Mudassir
    Mar 31, 2016 - 9:05AM

    What has happened to this nation people glorifying murderers and their supporters are holding government to ransom we are another Syria in the making. Just wait and watch within a decades time we will have educated leaving this country for good and various Islamic factions fighting each other with the help of foreign powers.Recommend

  • Justice
    Mar 31, 2016 - 9:51AM

    Stupid GOVT why did they accept their demands . Let Aisa Bibi go free . Who are these murderers & gangster to make demands . The Army should have just shot them all -Problem solved & those who come out arrest them on sight Recommend

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