Showdown likely as defiant Islamabad protesters refuse to end sit-in
ISLAMABAD: Amid fears of crackdown hundreds of activists and supporters of Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah continued to occupy the Faizabad Interchange on Saturday despite the Islamabad High Court (IHC) order and the Interior Minister’s final warning for calling off their protest.
With the law enforcement agencies facing a daunting task of clearing the busy artery of the capital of adamant protesters, there are fears that crackdown could have serious repercussions.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday morning directed the capital administration to defer by 24 hours action against the protesters in a bid to avoid clashes between them and the LEAs personnel.
In the meantime, a government delegation led by senior PML-N leader Raja Zafar-ul-Haq will hold talks with leaders of the religious parties camped out at the Faizabad Interchange.
The government is reported to have made efforts throughout the night to convince leaders of the newly formed religious party to call off sit-in peacefully, but all in vain.
The protesters have blocked the Faizabad Interchange, which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad, multiplying hardships of the people of the twin cities.
The IHC on Friday directed the capital administration to take all necessary steps to clear the Faizabad Interchange of protesters by 10:00 am today and submit a compliance report. It directed the administration to take help of the Rangers and Frontier Constabulary (FC) to implement its order.
Later, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal urged the protesters to call off their protest for the sake of Islam and the country as parliament had already restored clause related to Khatm-e-Nabuwwat declaration to its original form.
More than 5,000 personnel of police, Rangers and Frontier Constabulary have been deployed around the protesters’ camp.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, Iqbal said that there were armed men among the protesters who wanted to stoke chaos. Whoever challenges the writ of the government will be dealt with, he said and added that the government had capability, but it wanted to avoid violence.
Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah has been protesting for more than a week, demanding action against those involved in making an amendment to the clause pertaining to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath for electoral candidates and the sacking of Law Minister Zahid Hamid.
The National Assembly on Thursday passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017, restoring the clause about the finality of Prophet-hood to its original form.