Interior Minister gets 48 hours to evict defiant Islamabad protesters
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Monday renewed hopes for a successful negotiation with protesters camped out at Faizabad Interchange after pleading Islamabad High Court (IHC) for more time to implement the court orders.
Talking to press after court proceedings, Iqbal asserted that the government would not take action on whims of some conspirators, as he said, the court has been asked to grant 48-hours of time to tackle the issue peacefully.
“The government does not want a showdown resulting in another Lal Mosque [Lal Masjid] or Model Town incident,” he said while appearing optimistic for productive talks with the protesters.
He said there is no legal justification of protest after a bill passed unanimously by both houses of the parliament concerning the finality of Prophethood (Khatm-e-Nabuwwat).
Pakistani parliament and nation are defenders of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat, Iqbal underlined.
However, the interior minister said the Frontier Corps and Punjab Rangers personnel would remain deployed to avoid any kind of eventuality.
IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, during the court proceedings, issued contempt of court notices to Chief Commissioner Islamabad, Deputy Chief Commissioner, Interior Minister, Interior Secretary and Inspector General of Police (IGP) over non-compliance of the court orders.
Expressing resentment over non-compliance of orders, the IHC judge posed a question as to why the federal capital administration had been unsuccessful in exercising its authority to end the protest.
The IHC judge was hearing a petition filed by citizen Abdul Qayyum after passing directives to authorities concerned to ensure the dispersal of protesters on the same petition three days ago.
Granting 48-hours of time to the interior minister, the court then adjourned the hearing till November 23 (Thursday).
Meanwhile, the protesters continue to block the Faizabad Interchange, which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad, multiplying hardships of the residents of twin-cities.
It merits highlighting here that the court had permitted the district administration to exercise its authority and advised the deployment of the Punjab Rangers or the Frontier Constabulary, if needed.
On Sunday, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal reiterated that the protesters have no justification to remain camped out at Faizabad Interchange after restoration of 7B and 7C sections of Elections Amendment Bill 2017 pertaining to finality of Prophethood (Khatm-e-Nabuwwat).
Addressing a press conference alongside State Minister for Religious Affairs Amin Hasnat Shah, Iqbal made another appeal to the protesters to call off sit-in peacefully since a negative impression has been emerging from the protest over the finality of Prophethood across the world.
“The entire nation, as Muslims, believes in Khatm-e-Nabuwwat and the government will make no compromise on the matter, Iqbal clarified.
He said it is settled forever for Pakistan that a person who did not believe in the finality of Prophethood lacked a legal right to call himself a ‘Muslim’ and all political parties unanimously passed the law in this regard.
He deplored an impression of government compromised on the finality of Prophethood. “This impression is being ingrained into the public mind purposefully to provoke their sentiments,” the interior minister added.
‘Protesters sole demand’
The interior minister, in his press conference on Sunday, said its the masses suffering from the sit-in as traffic movement has been suspended in the twin-cities. The government delegation led by senior PML-N leader Raja Zafar-ul-Haq held marathon negotiations to break a deadlock but protesters are adamant on their demand of resignation of law minister Zahid Hamid, he said.
“If the government send the law minister packing, it would eventually set a wrong precedent,” he underlined, adding, there was no proof that he was responsible for the mistake (amendment).
On the occasion, Iqbal called upon the countrywide clerics to convince the protesters to call off their sit-in peacefully.
The protesters have blocked the Faizabad Interchange, which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad, multiplying hardships of the twin-cities residents.
The government is making all-out efforts to resolve the issue in an amicable manner since it is not a political demonstration but it resolves around religious sentiments, Iqbal said while indicating that the country cannot afford any kind of crisis at the moment.
‘Elections Amendment Bill 2017’
The Senate on Friday unanimously passed Elections (Amendment) Bill after the National Assembly approved revival of sections 7B and 7C to its original form.
The interior minister, in a statement, on Saturday said that the passage of the bill regarding finality of Prophet-hood is a historic achievement of the parliament and no one can alter this till the Day of Judgment, adding that after the passage of the bill, there is no justification for any sit-in.
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.