The deadlock between the government and the recently proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) over the ongoing protests across the country continued, as the banned party demanded the resignation of Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, expulsion of French ambassador to Pakistan, and immediate release of party chief Syed Saad Hussain Rizvi as well as the workers.
During the third round of talks between the banned party’s senior leaders and the government delegation late Monday night, deliberations once again halted as the government had refused to accept their demand of interior minister’s resignation and expulsion of the French ambassador.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat and senior officials of the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) participated in the negotiations with the proscribed party’s leaders.
TLP, earlier in the day, released all abducted officials of law enforcement agencies (LEA) following two rounds of talks among central leadership of the banned outfit and the government party.
The first round of talks between the Punjab government and senior leaders of the banned party was held on Sunday after a day-long clashes between TLP workers and LEA officials. However, the second round of talks concluded earlier on Monday, in which Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and provincial Law Minister Raja Basharat represented the government, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry highlighted.
Meanwhile, a government delegation called on Hafiz Saad Rizvi of the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan at Kot Lakhpat Jail in a bid to convince him to call off the countrywide protests.
The delegation was led by Punjab Quran Board Chairman Sahibzada Hamid Raza and comprising Milli Yakjehti Council President Dr Abulkhair Muhammad Zubair, Khawaja Ghulam Qutbuddin, Pir Mian Abdul Khaliq, Sarwat Ijaz Qadri, Pir Khalid Sultan, Jalil Sharqpuri, Pir Nizamuddin Sialvi, Hamid Raza Sialkoti and others.
Negotiations began at 3pm and continued until 9:30pm.
The negotiating team also broke their fast with Rizvi at Kot Lakhpat Jail.
The Ulema appealed to Rizvi to agree to end the sit-ins and protests across the country.
Sources said that Rizvi has given a positive signal and put some demands before the Ulema. The demands include deportation of French ambassador, release of arrested leaders and activists, end of cases and steps to prevent blasphemy globally.
Sources said that a new written agreement is possible between the government and the banned TLP.
Later, the delegation visited Jamia Masjid Rehmatul-lil-Alamin, Orphanage Chowk, the center of the banned party, and talked to the members of the banned outfit.
The delegation went back to Kot Lakhpat Jail at night and held talks again.
The Punjab Quran Board chairman said that he will soon bring good news to the nation. “A breakthrough has taken place.”
Raza said, “Inshallah, a positive result will come. Saad Rizvi has asked the workers to remain peaceful.”
He said, “Don’t get the impression that we have come for talks with Rizvi at the behest of the government. We are trying to establish peace in the country.”
The Milli Yakjehti Council president assured the nation that things have improved.
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Ameer Siraj-ul-Haq, along with senior party leader visited the banned TLP headquarter in Masjid Rehmat Ul Alamin separately to express solidarity and condolences over the loss of precious lives during recent clashes.
JI Secretary General Ameer ul Azeem, Central Ameers Liaqat Balouch, Dr Fareed Paracha and Ulmea and Mishaikh Council President Mian Maqsood Ahmad were also present on the occasion. JI delegation met with the central TLP leadership and prayed for the departed souls.
Meanwhile, TLP central leader Dr Muhammad Shafiq Amini, through an audio message, made an appeal to the party workers to end protests in all parts of the country and remove all road blockades. He said the ‘peaceful protest’ will continue at the TLP headquarters in Lahore.
(With input from other correspondents)