Govt says ‘accord reached' with TLP

Steering body formed to implement clauses, details to be revealed at ‘appropriate time’


​ Our Correspondents October 31, 2021
Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman addressing a joint press conference in Islamabad on October 31, 2021. PHOTO: PID

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD:

The government on Sunday announced that an agreement had been reached with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) after the latest round of dialogue between the two parties.

The pact came after around two weeks of clashes left at least seven policemen dead and scores injured on both sides

The announcement was made at a news conference in Islamabad where Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan, prominent cleric Mufti Muneebur Rehman as well as TLP members Mufti Ghulam Abbas Faizi and Mufti Mohammad Ameer were present.

Speaking on the occasion, Mufti Muneeb, the former chairman of the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, said a steering committee to implement the clauses of the agreement has been formed that would be headed by Minister Ali Mohammad Khan.

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat will be a member of the committee as well as Mufti Ghulam Ghous Baghdadi and Engineer Hafeezullah Alavi from the TLP.

“This agreement is neither a victory, nor a defeat of any side. This is a victory for Pakistan, Islam and the sanctity of human lives. It was reached after sense prevailed over aggression," he added.

“The delegations held a 12-hour-long meeting to settle the matter between the two sides successfully. It is fortunate that the agreement was reached before the situation got out of hand.”

He further said TLP chief Saad Rizvi had also endorsed the agreement.

He added that the “positive impact” of the agreement would be felt in the coming week as he called this settlement “in the best interest of Pakistan and its citizens”.

“This is the news for the entire nation, and the national media should portray it in a positive manner." He also thanked all groups involved in negotiations.

"I am thankful to the prime minister for empowering the committee and trusting it, and also to the committee for working dedicatedly to resolve this matter," he said, adding that the TLP exhibited the same attitude.

The cleric also expressed his gratitude to the federal ministers who had opposed the use of force against the TLP protesters. He also said the details of the agreement would be revealed at an appropriate time.

Speaking on the occasion, the foreign minister noted that the nation was in turmoil and roads and businesses were closed.

“The economy was at a standstill,” he added.

The minister said the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting – held on Friday – after detailed discussions decided that talks would be preferred and focus will be to resolve this issue with sensibility.

"In light of the prime minister’s orders and keeping in view the nation's interest, we realise that the powers who want to harm Pakistan could have benefited [from the violence].”

Qureshi also thanked the cleric and scholars, who had met the prime minister and tried to resolve the issue.

He added that there would be no question and answer session with the media.

The activists of the TLP are present in Wazirabad awaiting instructions from the party leadership. The rally had crossed Lahore and Gujranwala after bloody clashes with the Punjab Police that had left dozens, including at least seven policemen, dead. The protesters are camped out at Allah Wala Chowk.

A six-member committee headed by Muneeb later left for Wazirabad with the sealed agreement.

Following the announcement, the security arrangements, especially the placement of containers in urban centres, have been relaxed.

Many containers on the key roads of Rawalpindi, Islamabad and other adjacent cities in the way of Wazirabad were removed.

Read More: Govt allies seek NA session on TLP fiasco

 

Unofficial sources told The Express Tribune that the agreement included that the resolution on the France ambassador would be discussed in parliament. It also contained that the TLP chief would be released and the reference against him in the Wafaqi Nazarsani Board withdrawn.

 The TLP officials, requesting not to be named, revealed that the sit-in would at least continue till November 3, when a court decision is due on Rizvi’s release. The official said that the roads would be cleared for traffic from November 1 and the TLP workers and activists would continue their sit-in at a designated place till the decision is announced in Rizvi’s case. Some other sources said that TLP’s Majlis-e-Shura might consider sitting peacefully in Wazirabad for six or seven days or until Saad’s release.

Besides, it was also decided that cases against the TLP chief registered on April 12 and two before that would be withdrawn. The government also agreed to remove his name from its blacklist.

Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed would be declared a persona non grata.  The government also agreed to de-notify the TLP as an outlawed organisation and withdraw the cases against its activists. However, the activists detained for serious offences were to face courts. The government also agreed to honour the previous two agreements.

The names of scholars and TLP leaders would be removed from the Fourth Schedule and the future of the Wazirabad protest would be decided by the Majlis-e-Shura. The pact also included that the steering committee would discuss TLP candidates participating in elections.

Earlier, the federal government had invited the members of TLP's central committee to Islamabad after the first round of talks led by a delegation of clerics was said to have borne some success.

After multiple rounds of talks with the outfit failed, the government asked top clerics, belonging mostly to the Barelvi school of thought, to mediate between the TLP and the government.

The talks with the TLP through the clerics were successful, but they excused from becoming guarantors for either the TLP or the government.

TLP chief Saad had asked the 12-member negotiating committee to give the outfit a guarantee that the government would comply with the clauses of the agreement, whereas the government had asked the clerics to give assurance that the TLP would refrain from holding further protests.

Apparently the committee backed out saying the prime minister had strictly said that the matter of TLP detainees' release could only be decided by the court since the cases were pending before it.

However, Muneeb, who joined the dialogue on Saturday, agreed to become a guarantor for Rizvi.

Following Muneeb's willingness, the government called in the shura members of the TLP to finalise the agreement facilitated by the clerics.

Around midnight, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs tweeted that the first meeting of the Steering Committee on implementation of TLP agreement concluded at the Parliament House, saying modalities of implementation of agreement were discussed. The minister added that the second meeting of the steering committee will be held in Lahore on November 1 to speed up the implementation process.

Army chief’s 1000% role

Following the press conference, the Chairman of Saylani Welfare Trust Maulana Bashir Farooqi lauded army chief’s role in reaching the agreement between the government and the TLP.

“He [army chief] was 1000 per cent in favour of bringing peace in the country,” Farooqi said a day after a photo emerged wherein he along with Mufti Muneeb and business tycoon Aqeel Karim Dhedhi were standing with the army chief. Farooqi, TLP officials also confirmed, played a key role in the talks as he is considered to be very close with Prime Minister Imran Khan because of his support for government’s projects like Ehsaas Langar Khana and Panagahs as well as in installation of water filtration plants around the country.

To a question, Farooqi said that the army chief was absolutely clear that there shouldn’t be any use of force against the protestors, saying he only favoured negotiations. “It is because of his blessings that everything got done,” Farooqi reiterated, adding “army chief has a 1000 percent role in settling the issue.”

(With input from agencies)

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