ISLAMABAD: The Faizabad blockade continued for the ninth consecutive day on Thursday, and the Islamabad High Court’s orders for protesters to call off their sit-in only seems to have emboldened them.
The protesters, led by cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, said they would continue the sit-in until Law Minister Zahid Hamid – who they blame for the recent controversy surrounding changes in the Khatm-e-Nabuwat clause in the oath of office – is removed from his post.
“It is directed that [the protesters] must pay respect to the law and call off the sit in, which is resulting in blockages of roads and bringing suffering to ordinary citizens,” the Islamabad High Court said in its order on Thursday. The court passed the directions while hearing a petition filed by a member of Rizvi’s party against the prime minister.
But the protesters, instead of paying heed to the court orders, suspended the membership of the petitioner and said they had nothing to do with the case. “It was not our petition. It was an individual act. Our demand that the government identify whoever is responsible for amending the Khatm-e-Nabuwat clause is a legitimate one and we will continue our protest till it is met,” a spokesperson of Rizvi’s party told The Express Tribune.
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The government, on the other hand, has been warning the protesters by saying their patience was running out, but in practicality has shown great restraint against the protesters.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has also claimed that he is personally negotiating to end the sit-in, but the sit-in leaders have denied this.
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While there have been a few clashes between the two sides, the protesters are not willing to withdraw their demand for the removal of the law minister, and the government has flatly refused to accept it, leading to a stalemate.
Meanwhile, in the absence of serious efforts to find a solution, the Faizabad blockade looks set to continue into the weekend. Traffic and transportation networks in Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been crippled since the start of the Faizabad sit-in on November 8.
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The police have registered more than a dozen criminal cases against the leaders and participants of the sit-in, but have not taken any action yet. There have also been a few clashes and scuffles between the protesters and the police on the peripheries of the protest camp.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad district administration on Thursday served another notice on Rizvi, directing him to call off the sit-in as directed by the court or face legal action. This is the third notice the administration has served on Rizvi, who remains defiant. The organisers have announced they will gather an even bigger crowd and hold a bigger congregation for Friday prayers at Faizabad today.
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