Govt to recommence dialogue process with protesters
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Sunday decided to recommence dialogue with the protesters of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR), taking advice put forth by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa for not deploying personnel of Pakistan Army to disperse the protesters of TLYR rally.
The meeting was also attended by Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt General Naveed Mukhtar, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and others.
Sources privy to the details of the consultation meeting between the top civilian and military brass told Pakistan Today that the meeting decided that the army troops would remain deployed at sensitive state buildings in order to aid the civilian administration under article 245 of the constitution.
Talking to media, Ahsan Iqbal did not rule out resignation by Law Minister Zahid Hamid, saying that he would not comment on a matter which could affect the dialogue process.
He said that the government believes that first, the report of Raja Zafarul Haq committee would be made public; later, one could talk about the resignations. He said in wake of the holy month of Rabiul Awwal, media should play its role to harmonise the public at large.
The sources added that the meeting agreed that the prime minister would decide on the resignations of those ministers who have been held responsible in the report finalised by Raja Zafarul Haq committee.
The sources said that Gen Qamar was of the opinion that force should not be used to disperse protesters in Islamabad.
“The Army chief was of the opinion that the armed forces are not trained to deal with protesters; rather they are trained to deal with enemy forces. So it would be wise to allow the police and other law enforcement agencies to deal with the protesters instead,” the sources said.
The sources said that the army chief pointed out that the Islamabad High Court’s order had clearly mentioned that security officials undertaking the operation against the protesters should not carry firearms. The army chief added that army personnel are trained to use firearms in operations; therefore, it was beyond their approach.
However, the sources said that the army chief still assured the prime minister that the army would abide by the instructions given to them by the prime minister. Finally, both agreed that the issue should be resolved in a peaceful manner through consultation.
The sources said that the COAS also expressed concern over restrictions placed on news channels and suggested removing the prohibition. The army chief also suggested that the findings of the Raja Zafarul Haq committee over the recent legislation over the amendment bill should be made public.
Meanwhile, the prime minister also chaired a high-level meeting to evolve a strategy to tackle the situation in the federal capital and other parts of the country following the launch of an operation.
The meeting was attended by Punjab CM Shehbaz, Ahsan Iqbal along with district administration and police officials from the twin cities.