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Document of finishing dharna was not desirable: Ahsan Iqbal

29 November, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday said that the agreement that ended the Faizabad sit-in had not been desirable, but the government had been left with little choice in the matter.

“Document of finishing dharna was not desirable but there was little choice because if [the] situation had persisted [for] another 24 hrs there would be riots,” Iqbal said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi revealed that it was the army that ensured the government met the protesters’ terms.

“We told them [the government] that we cannot talk to you,” Rizvi told a private news channel. “Then the army came in the middle and our companions met the army and ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] bigwigs, generals etc.”

“They told us they will get all of our demands accepted,” Rizvi said in a startling revelation that shed light on why the government seemed to have capitulated so completely to the protesters.

Rizvi said that his team never met the interior minister — whose signatures were present on the agreement — and it “must have been” the army leadership that got Ahsan Iqbal to sign the document.

After the weeks-long protest, which virtually paralysed the capital and led to several people losing their lives, the government finally gave in to the protesters’ demands on Monday and Zahid Hamid resigned from his post as federal law minister.

The minister’s resignation came in the aftermath of Saturday’s botched operation against protesters at Faizabad and ‘successful negotiations’ with leaders of the demonstration late Sunday night, official sources and state broadcaster PTV said.

The terms of the agreement included blanket immunity for all those arrested during the crackdown on the agitating protesters.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said some forces were working to halt the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which was a gift to the country.

Talking to a private news channel, he said Faizabad protest sit-in had portrayed a bad image of the country and this practice should be stopped in the future.

To a question, he said that the issue of sit-in had been resolved through combined efforts of civil and military institutions. The minister said we all are Muslims and strongly believe in Khatm-e-Nabuwwat (finality of prophethood).

He said that it was the responsibility of the religious parties to show the true picture of Islam, which teaches love, tolerance and harmony.

Ahsan Iqbal also constituted a three-member committee to review sit-in operation at Faizabad. The committee, led by the interior secretary, will analyse whether or not there was any improvement in police capabilities in handling the sit-ins since 2014. The minister also suggested that a special team, consisting of 1,000 police officers, should also be formed immediately to deal with protests and sit-ins.

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