PML-N wary of govt-TLP deal

Abbasi, Iqbal, Sanaullah say facts about violence in Lahore being kept hidden from public

Rana Yasif April 20, 2021



The opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) came down hard on the government’s handling of the crisis triggered by the protest from the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), and demanded that facts around the whole episode be made public.

Senior PML-N leaders, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, party secretary general Ahsan Iqbal and its Punjab President Rana Sanaullah also criticised the agreement between the TLP leaders and a government team on Tuesday.

“What happened in Lahore [last week] the fact could not come to light. The government had been holding talks [with TLP] but nobody knows what promises are made,” Abbasi told reporters outside a accountability court in Islamabad.

“Everyone is worried what the prime minister is talking about,” the PML-N senior vice president said, adding that no one understood what the prime minister said in his address to the nation on Monday. “The prime minister did not speak about the killing of civilians [during TLP protests].”

Abbasi said that the country’s present situation was critical. “There is chaos, there are containers on every street. Things are getting worse but the rulers don't care,” he said. “Parties are being banned and then they hold negotiations. It does not happen in a democracy.”

Read more: Deadlock persists as govt rejects TLP demand of Rashid’s resignation

Abbasi pointed out that the facts about the situation in Lahore were not made public. He asked the government to reveal who made the promise to expel the French ambassador and what promises have been made to the TLP.

Ahsan Iqbal, also talking to the media outside the accountability court, asked the government not to blame the opposition, saying that PML-N did not play the role what the PTI played in 2017, when the TLP had staged a sit-in at Faizabad interchange against publication of blasphemous cartoons.

“At that time, Imran Niazi [then in the opposition, while the PML-N was in the government] was carrying petrol in his hands and would pour on every flame he saw. In our tenure, an operation took place on the instructions of the Islamabad High Court [IHC],” he added.

“The government is responsible for the crisis we face today. The government first agreed to expel the French ambassador and now … they say that it will be harmful,” he added. “Where were your ministers when they were making this agreement?”

Speaking to the media outside the Lahore High Court (LHC), Rana Sanaullah said that the agreement reached with the TLP carried the signatures of interior minister, law minister and religious affairs minister.

Sanaullaha said that at first, the TLP was banned and then negotiations were held with it. “Who authorised these ministers to reach the agreement and in what capacity? Why the matter was not brought before parliament.”

“The only way left for the PTI-led government is to either ask the French ambassador to leave Pakistan and follow its agreement with TLP or take action against those who signed the agreement if the government believes it should have not been signed," he added.




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