TLYR chief says law minister resigned after COAS’ assurance
Fiery cleric slams interior minister, Punjab CM, says Ahsan not part of talks
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday said that even though the agreement that ended the Faizabad sit-in was not “desirable”, the government had been left with little choice in the matter as it was a collective decision—a statement refuted by Khadim Hussain Rizvi when he revealed it was the Army which ensured the government met the protesters’ terms.
“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,” the interior minister said in a tweet.
Doc of finishing dharna was not desirable but there was little choice becuz if situation had persisted another 24 hrs there wud b riots
— Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) November 28, 2017
“Civil & military leadership acted collectively [to] save the country from [the] threat of religion based violence. We must heal wounds [to] unite nation,” he said in a separate tweet.
Civil & military leadership acted collectively 2 save the country from threat of religion based violence. We must heal wounds 2 unite nation
— Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) November 28, 2017
Talking to a private news channel, the minister said Faizabad protest 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 leadership.
The minister said, “We are all Muslims and strongly believe in Khatm-e-Nabuwwat.”
He said that it was the responsibility of the religious parties to show the true picture of Islam which teaches love, tolerance and harmony.
He also urged the media to play a positive role, and avoid broadcast of news without verification.
The interior minister meanwhile constituted a three-member committee to review the 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, comprising one thousand police officers, was formed immediately to deal with protests and sit-ins.
‘IT WAS ARMY WHICH ENSURED GOVT MET PROTESTERS’ TERMS’:
Meanwhile, Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi revealed that no representative of the civilian government was part of the talks that were held, adding that it was the army which ensured the government met the protesters’ terms.
Rizvi said that Law Minister Zahid Hamid resigned from his post only after Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had provided his assurance, adding that once law minister’s resignation came through, only then did the talks began.
Speaking to Samaa, he also said that a guarantee was given that the demands of the protestors would be met.
The fiery cleric also slammed the interior minister and Punjab chief minister, saying, “Shehbaz Sharif is lying; he was not the mediator in the talks. Ahsan Iqbal was [also] not at all part of the talks that were held.”
Rizvi said when the confrontation turned bloody, the army offered to be the mediator.
“We did not trust the word of any government representative to be the mediator,” he said, and questioned, “How could we trust the word of anyone who is referred to as a thief in every nook and corner?”
“We told them [the government] that we cannot talk to you,” Rizvi told the channel. “Then the army came in the middle and our companions met with army and ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] bigwigs, generals, etc.”
In a startling revelation, Rizvi said, “They told us they will get all of our demands accepted.”
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 which got Iqbal to sign the document.
It is pertinent to mention here that after the weeks-long protest, the government had finally bent its knee to the protesters on Monday after Zahid Hamid resigned from his post as the federal law minister.
Hamid’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-run PTV said.
Six people were killed while hundreds were injured during the operation. The ill-planned action only added fuel to the demonstrators’ fire and not only failed to dislodge them, but also fanned smaller protests in other parts of the country.
The ancestral home of Zahid Hamid was also attacked in Pasrur, near Sialkot.
Besides the law minister, the protesters had also targeted the residences of several key Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders, including MNA Javed Latif, Punjab Food Minister Bilal Yasin, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and former interior minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan.
The terms of the agreement, however, included blanket immunity for all those arrested during the crackdown on the agitating protesters. The agreement between the government and the protesters to end the sit-in has subsequently faced much criticism.
Most prominently, Islamabad High Court Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui had on Monday lashed out at the government as well as the army for mediating the agreement.
Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi accepted the resignation of Zahid Hamid.
After the prime minister’s approval, the Cabinet Division issued a notification of approval for MNA Zahid Hamid’s resignation from the position of law minister.
According to the notification, President Mamnoon Hussain accepted Hamid’s resignation on the advice of the prime minister under Section 3 of the Article 92 of the Constitution.
Following his resignation, Hamid on Monday said he had resigned in the interest of the country. He said he had not resigned under duress but decided to resign in the interest of the country.
Hamid had announced to step down voluntarily from the public office on late Sunday night in the greater interest of maintaining peace and law and order situation in the country.
“I was not directly responsible for the introduction of the controversial amendment to the Finality of Prophethood declaration for electoral candidates,” claimed Hamid.
“In order to restore peace in the country, I have decided to step down from my position.”