The National Security Committee (NSC) on Friday denounced “misuse of religion” by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and made it clear that the government would not allow anyone to challenge writ of the state in any way.
Though the 35th meeting of the NSC, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, kept the doors of negotiations open, it expressed the resolve not to tolerate any further breach of law by the “proscribed” TLP.
35th meeting of National Security Committee (NSC) was convened under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday, 29th October, 2021 at Prime Minister House#etribune #TLPLongMarch #Pakistan pic.twitter.com/WFn6buk2Ta— The Express Tribune (@etribune) October 29, 2021
The official statement has not just censured the TLP’s current actions but also declared that the party had always adopted the ploy of violent street agitation on numerous occasions since 2017 and “made unrealistic demands each time, solely as a tool to gain political strength”.
“In the process,” the statement after the high-level huddle stated, “the TLP’s actions have caused public disorder, serious economic losses to the country, besides boosting the morale of other terrorist outfits, seeking to challenge the state’s writ.”
The meeting was summoned over the TLP’s protest and long march after rounds of negotiations with the TLP leadership failed to produce any result. As the march began earlier this week, violent clashes ensued in which a number of policemen died, while hundreds of others were injured.
However, the NSC statement on Friday made it clear that no favour or leniency would be given to the TLP. “The participants endorsed the government’s decision to negotiate with the group only within the bounds of law, without offering leniency for any crimes committed by TLP operatives,” the statement read.
In addition, the statement said that the participants decried “the TLP’s misuse of religion and the issue of Namoos-e-Risalat for political gains, which was misleading the common man and creating internal discord within society”.
While emphasising that the government recognised the right to peaceful protest of all Pakistanis, it maintained, the committee members were unanimous that “TLP was deliberately employing violence against public property, state officials, and ordinary citizens to create instability in the country and that this shall not be tolerated”.
During the meeting, the prime minister “stressed that no group or entity will be allowed to cause public disruption or use violence to pressure the government”. It was decided that the state would “not tolerate any further breach of law by the proscribed group”.
“The TLP’s violence had ended up furthering the agenda of sectarian elements and external enemies of the state,” the statement read, adding that over 1.5 billion Muslims globally hold utmost love and respect for the Prophet (PBUH) but no such violent agitation had taken place in any other Muslim country.
In the meeting, attended by relevant federal ministers, the national security adviser, chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, the three services chiefs, the heads of the ISI, the IB and the FIA, and senior civil and military officers, were given a detailed briefing on the country’s internal security situation and the ongoing agitation by TLP.
“The committee unanimously resolved to guard its sovereignty from all internal and external threats and not to allow TLP to challenge the writ of the state in any way,” the NSC expressed.
Meanwhile, the NSC praised the police for their professionalism and restraint despite being directly targeted by the protesters and suffered casualties, including four martyrs and over 400 injured. However, it warned that “the state’s restraint should not be seen as a sign of weakness”.
The prime minister and the other committee members expressed condolences at the loss of lives of the policemen and “committed to compensating and looking after their families”. Commending the law-enforcement agencies’ performance, the prime minister assured that the government would firmly stand behind them as they act to enforce the law and protect the public.
Endorsing the view of the committee, the prime minister instructed that all measures and actions, necessary to enforce the law and protect the interests of the state and public, should be ensured.
Among other things, the committee observed that no previous government or prime minister had taken an unequivocal, stance on the issue of Namoos-e-Risalat and Islamophobia like the incumbent.
Under the current government, it said, Pakistan had “successfully brought these issues to the fore of international diplomatic discourse in the United Nations, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and European Union”, among other fora.
One key objective of establishing the Rehmatul-lil-Alameen Authority, the committee added, was also to intellectually counter international propaganda against Islam and sanctity of the Prophet (PBUH).
Separately, Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid expressed the desired to resolve issues with the TLP in an amicable way to maintain peace in the country.
Addressing a news conference, he said, “We want to resolve matters in an amicable way but so far we did not receive positive response from TLP.”
The minister said, “We will implement the promises made with the leadership of TLP; however, they have not fulfilled their commitment of opening GT Road and returning back to their center. We are waiting for their response.”
He said that the government had not stopped its talks with the TLP. “It is our desire and endeavour to settle specific issues with the TLP as early as possible through dialogue as the citizens are facing hardships due to their sit-in protest.”
He said that there would be no compromise on protecting the lives of the people as it was the responsibility of the state to protect the lives and property of the citizens.
He said that the government would not allow anyone to hold the country hostage. He added ensuring peace and stability was the top priority of the government.
Rashid said that ongoing situation led to the martyrdom of four police personnel. He added 80 policemen received bullets while six to eight policemen were in critical condition.
“I talked to them and I want to resolve this issue through negotiation. I have no other option but to allow the Punjab government to deploy Pakistan Rangers when TLP are killing policemen through weapons,” the minister said.
Sheikh Rashid said that the government on request of the Punjab government had deployed Pakistan Rangers in Punjab province for 60 days to maintain the law and order situation.
He said that the government had permitted the Punjab government to exercise the Police Officers provided in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 read with Section 5 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1977.
He said that several WhatsApp groups were running from India and other countries. He said that Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had been directed to monitor those groups functioning in Pakistan.
Also, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said that during an important operation last night, 32 activists of a banned outfit had been arrested.
In a tweet, the minister said the people were spreading hatred through fake social media accounts.
He said that big action against those spreading fake news and propaganda has been launched and more arrests would be made soon.
(With additional input from APP)
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